the tax plan changes spousal modification

UPDATED: Spousal Support Modification: New Changes

Goldberg Jones Featured Content, Finances, Spousal Support/Alimony 6 Comments

This post has been updated.

In the wake of divorce, you face many expenses. Ending your marriage may be the absolute right choice, but it rarely comes easy or cheap. One of the biggest continuing costs many men encounter is spousal support.

Like many court orders, once in place, these payments become difficult to alter. But a new law just took effect in Oregon that may have a huge impact on spousal support modifications. 

It’s traditionally been no easy task to modify spousal support. Up to now, it usually involved a lengthy proceeding where one party showed that the other’s financial status significantly changed. This was a detailed process that often required meetings, hearings, and a whole mess of time and money. 

Spousal Support Modification Changes

On January 1, 2018, however, Senate Bill 492 took effect in Oregon. Prior to this law coming into play, if you wanted to show that your ex’s financial state significantly improved, you had to actually file for modification in order to request financial discovery.

You had to do this just to determine if spousal support modification was even an option. That’s already an in-depth, expensive, time-consuming endeavor. And that alone turned many people off, even when they had a legitimate case. This new law theoretically changes that.

SB 492 provides a post-judgment, out-of-court process for parties subject to a spousal support award to exchange financial documents.

Under the new legislation, you can request your ex’s significant financial information without going through such a lengthy process. You can only do this once every two years, though you’re also required to submit your own financial documents.

Still, this substantially redefines the method for attempting spousal support modification. It may prove faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective. You no longer have to file a court case before you know if you even have a chance.

Upside and Downside

Like most new laws, the concrete effect of SB 492 remains a bit up in the air. We’ll have to wait and see how the courts interpret it and how it plays out in the real world. And like most new regulations, there are potential perks and pitfalls.

Potential Positives:

  • This could reduce litigation since you no longer have to file a court case to gain access to this information.
  • This should reduce litigation costs since you will be better able to determine your options and the legitimacy of your case ahead of time.
  • So, no costly filing with a weak claim or hiring an attorney.
  • It becomes easier to keep tabs on your ex’s changing financial status by requiring verification on a regular basis. Every two years under this law.

Potential Negatives:

  • With the current lack of information and precedent, it’s unclear exactly how the courts will enforce this new law.
  • You may still require legal assistance in order to get the other party to comply.
  • The requesting party must disclose their finances first.
  • Rather than a good faith belief that there is a change in financial circumstance, ex’s may be able to use this to harass a former spouse.
  • It’s easy for you to use, but it’s also just as easy for the opposing party.

This is just a quick take on how SB 492 may very well have an impact on how spousal support modification in Oregon works moving forward. Right now, there are many hypotheticals.

How exactly it takes shape, how courts interpret the regulation, and how it’s employed will become clear over time. And as with most new regulations, it has potential benefits as well as potential drawbacks.

Still, this is something to keep in mind moving forward. It presents a number of intriguing possibilities and ideally reduces some of the headaches and exertion associated with spousal support modification in Oregon.


Spousal Support Tax Deduction Abolished

Beginning January 1, 2019, on new court orders that include spousal support provisions, the party paying spousal support will no longer be able to deduct this amount.

At the same time, the recipient will no longer have to pay taxes on this amount. As it currently stands, the opposite is true. This may impact the way people negotiate divorce settlements.

This change will also effect any modification to a pre-existing court order.

Since spousal support is no longer an ‘above the line’ deduction, it’s estimated payments can drop as much as 10% to 15%.

However, this large change in spousal support taxation policy will not apply to existing divorce orders (those entered prior to January 1, 2019). These orders, so long as not later modified, will be grandfathered in at the prior tax policy.

Comments 6

  1. What if I make substantially less money now than when my divorce was final and child support and alimony were calculated? Can I modify or ask for a modification? Do I have to have a mediator in Lane County?

    Thank you.

    1. Post

      Hi Kelly, thanks for reaching out. Modifying child support and spousal support can be a tricky process. The good news is that you do have options. I passed your contact information on to Colin Amos, our managing attorney. He will be in touch soon. He’ll be able to answer any questions you have and offer a clear idea of how you can proceed.

  2. When my spousal support papers were filed they were based off my income in an atypical year of substantial earnings. Can I file a modification to get my support payments reduced now that my income is reduced?

    1. Post

      Hi James, thanks for the question! The short answer is that, depending on the time frame, you can probably file for a modification. As usual in these cases, it’s more complex than that. I passed your contact information on to our managing attorney. He will be in touch to get more detail and see how we can help your cause!

    1. Post

      Hi Don, thanks for reaching out! Your contact information has been passed along to Colin Amos, our managing attorney, and he will reach out to you shortly!

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