It is not uncommon for individuals’ financial circumstances to drastically change post-divorce, and for the support obligations ordered at the time of divorce to become unreasonable. If the court handed you a support order five, 10 or 20 years ago that you can no longer keep up with, you may wonder if you can modify the order and, if so, how. Fortunately, the law is on your side.
Florida law details several different types of alimony, including but not limited to permanent periodic alimony, permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony and bridge-the-gap alimony. When determining alimony, a judge must consider several factors, including but not limited to each parties’ ability to pay, the emotional and physical well-being of each party, the standard of living set during the marriage and each parties’ ages. According to Naples Daily News, all forms of alimony, regardless of why the judge selected the type he or she did, are modifiable.
The news article cites Section 61.14 of Florida Statutes, which deals with the modification of alimony. The section states that if the circumstances or financial capability of either party changes, either party may appeal to the court for a reduction or increase in support. This right to modification is implicit of every agreement or judgement providing for support, unless specifically waived by both parties.
To successfully obtain a modification of alimony, the petitioning party must establish a change in circumstances. The change must be one that the petitioning party could not and did not anticipate at the time of the judgment. It must also be material, involuntary and permanent. When deciding whether a modification is in order, the judge will consider several factors, including a reduction in the payer’s income, an increase in the recipient’s income as well as each parties’ comparative financial situations at the time of the requested adjustment compared to those at the time of divorce. He or she will also look closely to see if any voluntary action on the petitioning party’s behalf contributed to the change. For instance, placing assets in a trust may not justify reduction, but job loss or salary reduction might.
The courts often consider retirement grounds for modification, but only if the retirement is “reasonable,” meaning that it is not an early retirement. If the recipient spouse remarries or enters another supportive relationship, the judge may consider that to be grounds for modification as well.
The information in this article is for purely educational purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice.