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Financial Issues This forum is for discussing any of the financial issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 07-15-2016, 07:29 PM
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Default How to terminate spousal support

Has anyone had success terminating spousal support based on proving the spouse is self-sufficient.

Situation:
SA signed 1 year ago
Dad's income = $200,000
Mom's income = $125,000
1 daughter, now 8
Spousal support in SA = $1,000/month
CS - based on full offset table amount = $600/month

This year dad earned an $80k bonus, now mom is coming back for full table CS and $1,900/month SS.

Background: Mom has been with the same company for 16 years. Only took 1 year maternity leave. Lost nothing due to the marriage breakdown except dad's future income.

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 07-15-2016, 08:42 PM
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What does your separation agreement or divorce order say about spousal support? Is there any review date or termination clause? Why was spousal support awarded in the first place - what was the justification?

With respect to CS, Mom would only get the full amount if the child resides with her more than 60% of the time. That's the tipping point between offset and full amount. The fact that you got a bonus means that your contribution to child support will be higher next year, but it doesn't mean that the form switches from offset to the full amount.
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Old 07-15-2016, 08:50 PM
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This is the clause from the SA:

Spousal support may be varied if there is a material change in circumstances, even if the change was foreseen or foreseeable. The change may be:
(a) in either party's financial position;
(b) in the child support arrangements;
(c) Mom's remarriage;
(d) Mom's co-habitation with another person resembling marriage for a period of more than 36 months;
(e) Child turns 18, unless she is unable to become self-supporting due to illness, disability, education or other cause;
(f) in either party's health;
or any other similar change.
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Old 07-15-2016, 08:52 PM
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Clarifying. She is not seeking full table. Just an increase in the off-set amount. My fault... typo. It is 50/50 custody.
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:05 PM
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The offset amount will increase if your income increases. Usually, this increase takes effect when you next exchange financial information and update CS, which most people do once a year at tax time. Does your agreement cover this?

With respect to SS, your agreement sounds pretty clear. Mom can seek a variation (increase) to SS because your financial status has changed. You can also seek a variation (reduction) of SS if you can show that there has been a change which warrants reducing or eliminating the amount you agreed to. What is the change that would trigger an end to SS? Is Mom earning significantly more than she did when you signed the agreement, or is it about the same? (E.g. if you signed the agreement a year ago and Mom's income and status haven't changed since then, you would have a hard time arguing that SS should be terminated).

If Mom is seeking an increase in SS because you got an $80K bonus, which is legit in terms of your argument, and you are seeking the elimination of CS because she has become more self-sufficient than at the time of separation, it might make sense to offer a compromise - you'll continue SS at the current rate for a set period and then it will come to an end.
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymous View Post
Has anyone had success terminating spousal support based on proving the spouse is self-sufficient.

Situation:
SA signed 1 year ago
Dad's income = $200,000
Mom's income = $125,000
1 daughter, now 8
Spousal support in SA = $1,000/month
CS - based on full offset table amount = $600/month

This year dad earned an $80k bonus, now mom is coming back for full table CS and $1,900/month SS.

Background: Mom has been with the same company for 16 years. Only took 1 year maternity leave. Lost nothing due to the marriage breakdown except dad's future income.

Any help would be appreciated.
I don't understand how anyone could believe someone earning $125k isn't self-sufficient already. How and why did she get SS in the first place, if she has such a good career and it wasn't damaged by the marriage? If you didn't think ~$125k was self-sufficient then, I don't know how you could possibly prove it is now.

If this $80k is a one-time bonus, argue that nothing should change. She'll get more CS next year anyway when you use the increased amount to update the offset CS payment.
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:39 PM
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I understand now that I should not have agreed. We did the entire divorce withe mediators (no lawyers present) and they made me feel like this was "normal". They kept pushing the divorce mate numbers (which I wasn't familiar with). They used the "Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines" midpoint.

My lawyer was useless and didn't offer any advise. What I am trying to say is I made a mistake and now need to fix it. I am prepared to go to court if needed.
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:50 PM
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Much/everything depends upon basis that spousal support was awarded. It something has occurred to either party, which was not contemplated at the time the agreement or spousal support Order, then that would constitute a legitimate change of circumstances... reason a court would entertain discussion/review.

There are federal GUIDELINES on entitlement and percents (emphasis on "guidelines") as SS is not the same as child support.

It is not unusual for wealthy people (both) to agree or to have an Order for SS.

My situation is a perfect example. Simply put, my ex ripped me off big-time and left me holding the bag for large corporate debt. We mutually consented to a private binding mediation and outcome was my being awarded substantial SS (stepped down). I'm sure my ex, who lives in the woulda-could world would think that trial would have been better for him (doubtful as his shady actions might have put him in jail).

SS is decided on a case-by-case basis.

You have an agreement where basically if either party's income changes (foreseeable or not) it is deemed a material change of circumstance. That is pretty standard and what the annual exchange of financials is intended for. What is the formula for determining the amount? What is the quantum in your agreement?
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymous View Post
I understand now that I should not have agreed. We did the entire divorce withe mediators (no lawyers present) and they made me feel like this was "normal". They kept pushing the divorce mate numbers (which I wasn't familiar with). They used the "Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines" midpoint.

My lawyer was useless and didn't offer any advise. What I am trying to say is I made a mistake and now need to fix it. I am prepared to go to court if needed.
IMO Mediators are just another enterprise making money off the divorce industry. You can find yourself a shark lawyer who can argue that you had no independent legal advice. You can then find yourself in front of a judge who will say "no wait a minute... let's examine the intent of the agreement." "Mr. and Mrs. xxx you were well advised that you opted for the mediation process in lieu of litigation and jointly came to an agreement." "This court is not going to interfere in a privately-negotiated agreement."

Does your SS agreement/SA provide for a "review" period?

I would recommend that you retain competent legal counsel. Take steps to protect yourself from being scorched by the lawyer though and ask for a quotation and "plan of action" with 'worst-case' scenarios along with time-lines.
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:59 PM
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BTW - if your received an 80K bonus - it is considered income and certainly would be 'fair game' in determining your income for the purposes of calculating SS.
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