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Modifying Alimony Awards in Florida

Any form of alimony, also known as spousal support, in Florida can be modified by the court if payments occur over time. As discussed in a previous post, alimony can be modified or terminated if the receiving spouse cohabitates and receives financial support from another person. However, there are other reasons that a family law court will allow the modification or termination of alimony payments in Florida.

Florida Alimony Law

The modification or termination of spousal support payments is addressed in Section 61.14 of the Florida statutes. The law states that “When the parties enter into an agreement for payments for . . . support, maintenance, or alimony . . . and the circumstances or the financial ability of either party changes . . . either party may apply to the circuit court . . . for an order decreasing or increasing the amount of support, maintenance, or alimony, and the court has jurisdiction to make orders as equity requires, with due regard to the changed circumstances or the financial ability of the parties or the child, decreasing, increasing, or confirming the amount of separate support, maintenance, or alimony provided for in the agreement or order.”

Conditions for Modifying or Terminating Alimony

The threshold for making a modification to an alimony award in Florida is that one party must prove that there has been a change in circumstances that was not anticipated at the time of the alimony agreement. In addition, the party must prove that the change in circumstances is permanent, material, and involuntary.

When making the determination to modify or terminate alimony payments, the judge looks at more than just whether the paying spouse’s income has decreased or the receiving spouse’s income has increased. The court also considers the relative financial circumstances at the time of divorce compared to now.

In addition, the court takes seriously the element of “involuntary” when considering whether to modify alimony payments. A spouse that willingly takes a pay cut in order to pay less in alimony will not be allowed to modify an agreement. A significant loss in salary or employment can be enough to modify spousal support payments, but only if it can be proven that the loss was not at the discretion of the paying spouse, and that the spouse is actively looking for work.

Special Circumstances for Modifying Alimony

In special cases, the court in Florida has allowed for a temporary reduction in alimony payments if the paying spouse needs the money to fund educational or career enhancements. The court has considered the temporary reduction in income as “involuntary” for the purposes of modification and has seen the pursuit of education as an effort to improve upon the paying spouse’s economic position in good faith.

Retirement can also be the basis of modifying an alimony agreement, but each specific case must be considered on its own merits. For example, early retirement without a medical reason is generally not enough to consider a modification of alimony. Even if retirement happens after the age of 65, the court still looks at the circumstances surrounding the retirement to determine whether modification to spousal support should be allowed.

Call a Florida Divorce Attorney Today

If you or someone that you know has questions regarding modifying or terminating an award for alimony or any other issues involving divorce matters in the Orlando area, let Steve W. Marsee, P.A. help. Call or contact the office today for a consultation of your case.

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