Should I Agree to Non-Modifiable Spousal Support?

Spousal support, or alimony, refers to court-ordered payments a judge may order one spouse to pay the other as part of a divorce settlement. Spousal support aims to level the playing field between two spouses when one has more education, job experience, assets, or income than the other. Spousal support agreements can be modifiable or non-modifiable in San Diego, California. Don’t let a non-modifiable agreement scare you – it can have many benefits. Here’s what to know before you decide.

Modifiability Doesn’t Affect Length of Time

When couples hear “non-modifiable spousal support,” they may think this means it will be permanent or forever. This is not the case. The modifiability of a spousal support agreement in California only pertains to whether or not one of the spouses can request to modify the amount or frequency of the payment. It does not affect how long the spousal support will be in effect.

Only the courts can decide how long one spouse must pay the other. They will make this decision based on many factors, such as the length of the marriage, age of spouses, education of both spouses, income levels, and how much the recipient gave up for the marriage or to take care of kids. Regardless of whether a spouse agrees to modifiable or non-modifiable payments, it will not affect the agreement’s duration. The length of time the payments will be in place depends on the court order, and future changes such as the recipient getting remarried.

Non-Modifiable Spousal Support Doesn’t Depend on Future Income

One of the main benefits of a non-modifiable agreement is that the amount will not fluctuate according to the paying spouse’s income. This can provide a level of stability that’s helpful for both parties. It is easier to plan for the future when both parties know exactly how much they will be spending or earning in spousal support. An agreement that doesn’t alter with income can be a pro or con depending on the situation.

If you lose your job or get a demotion, a non-modifiable spousal agreement could spell trouble. You won’t have the option to petition the court to lower your monthly payments based on your new income level. Instead, you will need to keep making your payments according to what you were earning while married. This could lead to having a payment you can no longer afford, with potential legal consequences.

If you earn more income in the future, however, a non-modifiable agreement can benefit you. Your spouse won’t have the option of taking you to court and arguing for higher payments because you just got a new job or earned a raise. Your payments will stay at an affixed amount according to what you earned at the time of your divorce. A non-modifiable agreement can save you money if you earn more after your divorce. It might also be the right choice if you don’t want your ex-spouse to reap the benefits of your hard work and promotions.

You May Be Eligible for Tax Benefits with a Non-Modifiable Agreement

Another reason many people elect to agree to non-modifiable spousal support is for the tax advantages. People who pay spousal support cannot name tax deduction if they make lump-sum property payments. However, they can get a deduction for paying monthly support. With a non-modifiable agreement, a spouse can calculate exactly how much he or she will need, set this amount aside, and make monthly payments for tax purposes. An attorney can help you get more information about the tax implications of a spousal support agreement.

Do What’s Right for You

The ability to modify a spousal support agreement can impact your career choices, your relationship with your ex-spouse, your future financial planning, and how much you’ll spend on future court dates. If you want to eliminate any future possibility of changes to your spousal support agreement, agreeing to a non-modifiable settlement might be the right choice for you. At the end of the day, you will need to decide which type of agreement is right for you and your family.