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In April 2007 my ex-wife and I divorced after 26 years of marriage.

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Our three children were all...
In April 2007 my ex-wife and I divorced after 26 years of marriage. Our three children were all over age 18 at the time. My ex-wife had a college education but had not been employed during the marriage.

Under duress, I agreed to a settlement that involved selling our house and her receiving $18,000 cash and automobiles while I assumed the marital debt of about $60,000 ($700/mo). She also received half of my 401(k) currently valued at $15,000 and half of my pension, which would pay her about $1000/mo at age 65 or $800/mo at age 57.

I agreed to pay her the sum of $2000 per month, plus $427 for COBRA insurance and $100/mo for a life insurance policy on me for a period of 12 years.

My net monthly income at the time was $4,400 (Gross yearly over $67,000)

In December 2008 my income was reduced to $4,000 ($59,000 gross) due to business downturn at my employer. This should qualify as a substantial change under rcw.

Since the divorce she has remained unemployed and has had made minimal effort to obtain training that would lead to employment.

In initial consulatations with several local lawyers, all of them seemed pretty vague and offered little hope for a successful outcome in modification proceedings. They all seemed to basically say that once you agree to a settlment, however outrageous, you are basically screwed.

I have retained the services of a local lawyer, but want to obtain a second opinion about what would constitute reasonable terms for modification.

- Can I modify the term as well as the monthly payment amount?

- Am I now entitled to a complete review of the monthly payment portion of the decree, or is the adjustment only in proportion to the amount of change in my monthly take-home pay?


My current thinking is to propose offering her the other half of my 401(k) , reducing the payments to $1000 per month for the next 15 months and then reducing the payments to $200 per month.
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 11 minutes by:
6/24/2010
Lawyer: SavyLawyer, Attorney replied 8 years ago
SavyLawyer
SavyLawyer, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4,300
Experience: Licensed to practice law, I have experience in dealing with a wide variety of legal issues.
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Hello, and thank you for contacting the just answer team.

My honest answer is that I am skeptical that the court, when reviewing your case, would agree that a reduction from $4400 to $4000 is sufficiently substantial to require a change in the decree. Now, there is no hard and fast rule for what dollar amount constitutes a substantial change, but in all honesty, I think the attorneys that you have spoken with are probably correct, the court is likely not going to find sufficient substantial change in circumstances. That doesn't mean that the issue isn't worth pursuing, but I would be lying if I didn't say that your odds are probably not great.

As for what reasonable modified terms would be, I would agree that the modifications sound reasonable to me, and are ones that the court should find reasonable if they are willing to entertain the argument. Generally, spousal support is granted under the idea that one spouse has lost economic opportunity because of the marriage. However, if your ex-wife is doing nothing to better her economic situation, and has the means to do so, she isn't holding up her end of the bargain. So yes, the terms that you propose are reasonable under the circumstances, but again, without the threshold issue of substantial change, it's going to be tough to get a modification at all, let alone for terms that are reasonable, because as it stands, the terms that you originally agreed to hold without the intervention of the court, and the court won't intervene without a substantial change of circumstances, the sort of which it doesn't sound like you have.

I wish I had better news for you, and thank you for the opportunity to answer your question. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Otherwise, please remember to click the green ACCEPT button so that I can receive credit for my work.


Take care

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