January 7, 2022

Modifying Alimony, Where Must You Go?

Divorced people move on with their lives.  Sometimes one or both move to another state.  They may be surprised to learn that moving out of state can seriously affect getting a change to alimony. 

A recent Connecticut case involves Cheryl and Brian who were divorced in the United Kingdom in 2009.  She later moved to Connecticut and he to New York.  Each of them wanted alimony changed and each filed a motion in the Connecticut court asking for a modification.  They both expected that the Connecticut court would decide the question.  Sounds logical, right?  Well, actually – wrong!

The Connecticut court said it didn’t have the power to change the UK alimony order and they had to go back to the UK court to get a change.  Connecticut has a version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, as every other state does.  It prohibits Connecticut courts from modifying alimony orders of other countries.  It doesn’t matter if both spouses moved to Connecticut or agreed to getting a modification in Connecticut.

So what if the divorce were in another state that issued alimony orders instead of a foreign county.  Same result.  The same Connecticut law also prohibits a Connecticut court from modifying an alimony order from another state. It wouldn’t matter even if they had agreed on a new amount.

For better or worse, that is the law.  Why?  Well, who can receive alimony and what factors go into the amount and duration differs greatly from state to state.  It makes sense then that the court modifying the order should be following the same rules as the court that originally entered it.  That principle outweighs the obvious inconvenience and expense of having to return to the state of the divorce.  Even if, in some cases, it is prohibitive even to seek a change.

If the original alimony order had provided for an automatic adjustment, whether a stated amount or a formula, if one spouse moved to another state, the Connecticut courts could enforce that because no change to the alimony order would be needed.

This article was first published on January 5, 2022 in The Cheshire Citizen. Contact Attorney Cappalli directly at 203-271-3888 or lcappalli@cappallihill.com to learn more about alimony modification, whether you are considering seeking a modification or are defending against one.

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