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My ex can work but doesn't, do I have to keep paying support?

You entered a marriage in your late 20s after you and your wife both finished college and had experience in the workforce. After having children, your wife quit her job to stay home with the kids. Now, 10 years down the line, you find yourself divorced and paying spousal support on top of child support. Your ex can work but chooses not to, leaving you to wonder if you really have to keep paying for her to live her life.

Not every divorce case will see a spousal support award, but when a judge awards it, it is usually for good reason. Your ex may need some help getting on her feet, so the court may grant a temporary order -- but even temporary orders can last for several years. This can create a significant drain on your personal finances and hinder your ability to move on. Fortunately, it may be possible to amend or eliminate your support obligation altogether, under the right circumstances.

Seeking a change

If you wish to amend or end your support obligation, you can do it in one of two ways. First, you can talk it over with your ex. Sometimes, it is possible for both parties to come to agreeable terms. These new terms will still require court approval and an official order update, however.

The second way to seek a change or order cancellation is to file the appropriate motion in court. Along with the order modification request, it is necessary to submit a valid reason for the request and supporting documentation.

Don't wait to seek a change

There are a number of reasons you may wish to have your support obligation changed or stopped. Usually, the courts require a change of circumstances to have occurred. However, a lack in change of circumstances may be sufficient. An ex in her late 30s who has had a career should technically be capable of achieving gainful employment. Refusing to work in order to keep receiving spousal support is something the court will frown upon.


There is a specific process you must follow to seek a support order change in court. It goes as follows:

  • Fill out forms.
  • Have legal counsel review forms for errors.
  • Make copies of forms.
  • File forms in court.
  • Schedule a court date.
  • Have papers served to your ex.
  • File proof of served papers.
  • Attend your hearing.

It is a fairly easy process, but your ex may fight you on it if she wants to keep receiving support.

Seeking to end or amend a support order may or may not be an easy task. Every situation is different. If you think your case qualifies for a change, legal counsel can review your case and help you fight for it.

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