Can You Modify Your Alimony Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic in Florida?
The economic downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs. As over 2 million Floridians filed unemployment claims amid the pandemic, many divorced individuals are wondering whether they can modify their alimony due to their coronavirus-related financial hardship.
First of all, yes, you may be able to request an alimony modification as long as your spousal support agreement is modifiable. If alimony is non-modifiable, you will not be able to change the court-ordered amount, even if you become unemployed or see a significant reduction in income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there may be exceptions, which is why you should consult with an Orlando alimony attorney.
Modifying Alimony Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
The economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis made many divorced persons unable to meet their alimony obligations. But can you actually modify your alimony due to financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?
In short, the answer is yes. However, there are certain limitations and requirements. Since the Florida courts have broad discretion in awarding and modifying alimony, you will have to convince the judge that the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a substantial change in circumstances that warrants the modification. In Florida, courts have the ability to modify spousal support retroactively or through supplemental action.
In order to modify alimony during the pandemic, you have to demonstrate proof of:
- A substantial change in circumstances caused by the coronavirus crisis;
- The change must be one that was not contemplated at the time of the original order; and
- The change is involuntary, substantial, material, and permanent.
If your Orlando spousal support attorney is able to establish the above-mentioned elements, the court can modify your order either retroactively or through supplemental action. Alimony and child support modifications are retroactive to the date of the filing, which is why the sooner you file a motion with the court, the faster your reduced payments will go into effect.
Failure to Pay and Contempt of Court
Keep in mind that failure to pay alimony may put a payor in contempt of court. Being held in contempt, in its turn, can result in penalties such as:
- Fines and fees
- Jail sentence
- Wage garnishment
- Property seizure or liens
- Tax refund designation
- Judgment and interest
As you can see, the consequences of not paying spousal support in Florida are rather harsh, which is why you should not hesitate to request a modification if the COVID-19 pandemic affected your ability to meet your financial obligations.
Since either party can request a modification, the recipient can also modify spousal support if the pandemic caused a substantial change in need. If your situation has been affected by the economic fallout from coronavirus, contact an Orlando spousal support lawyer to discuss your options regardless of whether you are a payor or recipient. Schedule a consultation by contacting our attorney at the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee. Call at 407-521-7171.