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Hard times may force you to revisit spousal support

In this time of economic recession, some Michigan residents have found it necessary to revisit the issue spousal support and request a modification of their divorce decree. They aren't alone, as today's celebrity story illustrates.

Dennis Rodman is no longer making the money he once did as a professional player. He is reported to be playing in basketball games in Europe and Asia, but his reduced income forced him to request a modification of his spousal and child support payments.

Apparently, he didn't request the modification in time: a judge found him guilty of 4 counts of contempt and recently sentenced him to 104 hours of community service and 3 years of informal probation for failing to pay the support required by the terms of his 2004 divorce. The court also ordered that he pay $32,500 in attorney's fees to his ex-wife.

During the period in 2009-10 when he fell behind in his payments, Rodman was expected to pay $50,000 in monthly support. That amount has since been reduced to $4,500 per month. Rodman claims that he is now current on those obligations.

There can be many valid reasons for seeking a modification. A change in jobs or health status might make it too difficult to meet your obligations under a divorce judgment. Perhaps your child has experienced medical or educational challenges that you didn't anticipate during the divorce.

If you need to request a modification, you may find yourself revisiting financial, health and insurance policies that you haven't examined since the divorce. A court may also inquire into several other factors, such as each party's current financial resources, future earning capacity, age, physical and emotional condition, and the standard of living established to date.

One thing is certain: modifying a divorce decree can be a very complex topic. An attorney can walk you through all of these issues and protect your interests.

Source: USA Today, "Dennis Rodman sentenced in child support dispute," Mike Foss, May 30, 2012

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