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Request to change your alimony

Either the person paying or the person receiving alimony, or both together can ask for a change.

Probate and Family Court locations

The Details

What you need

Filing for a change

If you and your spouse both agree that you would like to change your alimony, you should file a Joint Petition. See:

  • Changing a Judgment or Temporary Order by Agreement (see additional resources below)
  • Checklist of Required Forms (see additional resources below)

If you can’t agree on the changes, you should file:

  • Complaint for Modification of Alimony (see additional resources below)
  • If the change involves the amount of alimony being paid, you also need to file a financial statement.

If you are not the one who filed

If you are not the one who is asking for the change to alimony, the first time you hear about the court action might be when you get served with papers by a sheriff or constable. Read through the papers you receive carefully. You are the defendant in this case.

You have 20 days to file an “Answer” with the court. The Answer is a document that you write yourself, it isn’t a court form that you fill out. See Respond to a case filed against you in Probate and Family Court for information on how to write your answer and how to send it to the plaintiff (the person asking for the change) and the court.




Below are the fees if you are asking for alimony for the first time after you divorce. Note there may be additional fees to the sheriff or constable for service. 

If you cannot afford to pay court fees, see Indigency (Waiver of court fees).

Name Fee Unit
For Modifying of Alimony $150 each
Summons Fee $5 each
Fee paid if there is joint petition for alimony $150 each

How to request

You must file in the county where the alimony was originally granted, usually where you were divorced. For example, if you lived in Norfolk County when alimony was first ordered, but you now live in Suffolk and the defendant now lives in Plymouth County, you must file in Norfolk Probate and Family Court.

Next steps

  1. Signing the summons form

    When you file the complaint, the court staff will give you a completed summons form. You must make sure that this form is served on (delivered to) the other person. If you feel that the other person will not object to the modification, you can have him/her sign the summons in the presence of a notary public and then return it to the court.

  2. Getting the constable or sheriff Involved

    If you know that the other party will object to the change, you should have a constable or sheriff in that county serve the summons. Usually you need to hire a sheriff or constable to serve the defendant.

    There are also directories of constables online. You will need to pay the sheriff or constable for the service or give him a copy of your approved indigency form. When a sheriff serves the defendant, he or she gives the defendant a copy of the summons, complaint and tracking notice.

    Then, he or she fills out the second page of the summons, called Return of Service. Return of Service is proof that the defendant was served.

    Once this is completed, the original summons (not a copy) must be filed with the court. Check with the sheriff to see if he or she will file it for you or if you must file it with the court yourself. It is your responsibility to make sure the original summons is filed.

  3. Receiving the form

    Once the constable or sheriff has completed service to the other party, he or she will either send the summons completed on the back with the date of service directly back to the court or to you. If he or she sends it to you, make sure that you file the completed summons with the court as soon as possible.

  4. Completion and Assigning Court Date

    The other person, called the defendant, has 20 days to file an answer to the Complaint for Modification of Alimony. After that time, you should file a request for assignment of a court date if the staff has not already assigned one. If the defendant does not file an answer, then you should ask for an uncontested trial. If he/she does, then ask the court staff to schedule a pre-trial conference and explain the issues involved in the modification.




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