2021 has been a year for the record books in many ways and some current issues have negatively impacted income levels. For a divorced Nebraskan who is either paying or receiving alimony or spousal support from their ex-spouse, many factors can negatively impact their ability to pay the same level of alimony or to live on the same spousal support payment amount they were previously receiving.
Facing job loss, having work hours reduced, staying home all day with children or earning lower revenue is stressful enough. But how can these factors affect alimony payments?
Complaints to modify alimony
Some exes may be able to negotiate a modification of the amount or duration of alimony payments without having to go before a judge. If the parties cannot agree, Nebraska law allows either to file a complaint to modify spousal support with the state court.
The court only has the power to modify alimony if there was an alimony award in the original divorce decree that did not expire before the complaint to modify was filed. Also, the court may not modify or excuse any overdue, unpaid alimony as of the date of filing.
Good cause to modify
A Nebraska judge has the discretion to modify alimony for “good cause.” Nebraska courts interpret “good cause” to be a “material and substantial change in circumstances,” which the person filing the complaint must prove. However, situational changes that the spouses could have foreseen at the time of divorce or that were “accomplished by the mere passage of time” are not material or substantial enough to support a modification of alimony.
Appeal of a decision on a modification complaint
If either party is unhappy with the court’s decision to modify or not modify, they may appeal. The higher court will review the record made below de novo — meaning that it may evaluate and weigh the evidence that was before the trial court as if it were making the initial decision. Then, it will only reverse the trial judge’s decision if it finds there was an abuse of discretion.