Can I modify alimony after a bankruptcy? 23 Answers as of January 10, 2014

I got divorced in 2011 and was ordered to pay lifetime alimony as well as child support. Both payments come directly from my paycheck. This makes it impossible to pay my monthly bills and I was forced to file Bankruptcy. I still cannot even pay the regular bills.

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David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law
David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law | David R. Fondren
That is a question of domestic law not bankruptcy. Bankruptcy does not affect the divorce decree.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 1/10/2014
Rhymer Law Firm
Rhymer Law Firm | William Rhymer
It is sometimes possible to modify alimony and/or child support but you would need to talk with a domestic relations attorney and explain your factual situation to him or her. The bankruptcy case would usually not prevent a post-discharge modification.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 1/7/2014
Kirby G. Moss PC | Kirby G. Moss
Modifying the alimony or whatever it is is specific to your divorce case and has nothing to do with the bankruptcy matter. So yes, if you can make proper showing to the divorce court.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 1/6/2014
Law Office of Susan G. Taylor
Law Office of Susan G. Taylor | Susan G. Taylor
The bankruptcy should not affect your family law case or ability to modify support payments.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 1/3/2014
Eranthe Law Firm
Eranthe Law Firm | Cate Eranthe
Usually you can. You will have to file a motion in the court where the support was ordered and you will need a change in circumstances like less income. It also depends on what the orders are in your final judgment. Have a knowledgeable local family law attorney review your situation. Nothing can be changed without filing with the court. Even if your former spouse agrees to take less you will still legally owe it unless you file with the court.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/31/2013
    John Russo | John Russo
    You should have worried about that when you were putting the divorce through to late now, if the alimony provision is non-modifiable then you are out of luck, again the time to deal with that was during the divorce, lifetime alimony is as rare as hitting power ball, you either did the divorce yourself, or you had a real estate attorney representing you, or your ex had a severe illness, short of any of those there is no reason for lifetime awards, not in this day and age.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Milligan, Beswick, Levine, & Knox LLP
    Milligan, Beswick, Levine, & Knox LLP | Stephen P Levine
    If there has been a change in income you can file for a modification of your spousal support but the bankruptcy and your bills is not good grounds.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Law Office of Robert E McCall | Robert McCall
    Alimony may be modified at any time by the Judge. You must file a Petition to Modify any relief is up to the Judge.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
    James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
    You may be able to. You need to contact a local attorney to file a motion for modification.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    In California a change in circumstance may justify a modification of those orders. You need see a family law attorney. Make sure to bring the current order to your appointment.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Robert S. Payne, Utah Bankruptcy Attorney
    Robert S. Payne, Utah Bankruptcy Attorney | Robert S. Payne
    You can, but this is a family law question, not bankruptcy. You'll need to hire a good divorce attorney to file a petition to modify divorce decree and make a strong argument that alimony and/or child support need to be lowered. It won't hurt or help your bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    You will need to ask a family practice attorney whether you have grounds to decrease your alimony obligation after filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy does not affect your obligation in family court.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    The Bryan Law Firm, L.L.C.
    The Bryan Law Firm, L.L.C. | Douglas L. Bryan
    Yes, you can file to modify alimony at any time as long as you can show a change of circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Eric Johnson
    Eric Johnson | Eric Johnson
    In Utah, and alimony payor can seek a modification of his alimony obligation if he can demonstrate an inability to pay that has arisen due to circumstances beyond his control. Stark examples would include a man who makes a living as a photographer who then goes blind, a man who makes a living as a sculptor and then suffers an amputation of one or both hands, being diagnosed with a malady that events on from working full time without risking death, etc. Less start but more common examples would include having a job in an industry that replaces human workers with computers or robots, losing a job due to the fact that the company has moved its operations to another state or another country, etc. In your case, because you have declared bankruptcy and still do not have the ability to meet even your own basic monthly living expenses, you should have a good case for seeking a modification of alimony, but don't expect the going to be easy. Courts are extremely skeptical of people (especially men) who claim they are unable to pay alimony. Be prepared to prove your case six ways from Sunday; you will be under a microscope and every one of your expenses will as well. It would be wise for you to hire an attorney if for no other reason than to play devil's advocate subject your claims of inability to pay to scrutiny so that you will have ready and inarguable answers to every challenge to your claims. Yes, yes, I know you're going to say you don't have any money and can't afford an attorney, but you'd be surprised the kinds of payment arrangements attorneys are willing to accept, if you get creative and find an attorney who think creatively as well. If you don't have money to spend on attorney, offer to exchange services. If you can do bookkeeping, offer to help set up the attorneys bookkeeping ( most attorneys have horrible bookkeeping if any bookkeeping all). If you don't have any special skills, then offer to be a receptionist, wash windows, provide janitorial work, offer to repaint the entire office. Where there is a will there is a way.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Deborah F Bowinski, Attorney & Counselor at Law | Debby Bowinski
    The laws in your state that control what can and cannot be modified from a divorce decree will determine the answer. The bankruptcy filing has nothing to do with modifying alimony.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Family Law & Mediation Services, LLC | Carol Jean Romine
    No. In Indiana, alimony may only be modified by agreement of the parties because it may not be ordered in the first place except by agreement of the parties.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Diane l. Berger | Diane L. Berger
    In order to modify alimony there must be a change in circumstances not anticipated at the time of the entry of the original order. If your income has decreased, that would be a change in circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Law Offices of Linda Rose Fessler | Linda Fessler
    You can try to get it modified, but I would not be overly optimistic.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Elkington Law
    Elkington Law | Sally Elkington
    Modification of your alimony and child support is a family court issue. You will have to go back to family court and prove a change of circumstances to get such a modification.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Thomas Vogele & Associates, APC | Thomas A. Vogele
    You cannot discharge such obligations through bankruptcy but you can go back to family court and seek to reduce them through a modification order.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C.
    Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar, P.C. | Stuart M. Nachbar
    In NJ, it is possible to request a modification of alimony and possibly child support. You would have to meet the Lepsis Test.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    The bankruptcy has nothing to do with the modification of alimony (or maintenance). That is an issue that you would have to bring up in the matrimonial courts but after your bankruptcy, you should have no other debts to pay.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/31/2013
    J. Barbour Rixey, P.C.
    J. Barbour Rixey, P.C. | J. Barbour Rixey
    It depends on the support order. If it allows for modification based on a change in circumstances or the court awarded spousal support after a hearing then yes you can attempt to do so. If the support is based on an agreement and there is no provision for modification then no you can't modify it.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 12/31/2013
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