Divorce laws change from state to state regarding such things as alimony. Couples that have divorced and have either moved to Florida or were divorced in Florida and have changes in their lifestyle and circumstance that warrant a modification of alimony may need to know whether a change to alimony is possible. Florida does allow for a party to file for an increase, decrease or termination of alimony in certain circumstances. Understanding your rights and options in an alimony modification case can be beneficial to you in protecting your rights and interests.
In order to have access to the court for a modification there must be a substantial change in circumstance. For example, if you were awarded alimony based on the fact that you can hold a job, but that your income is less than your ex-spouse, then you may need to seek an increase in alimony if you become disabled and unable to work. Alimony in Florida is typically awarded to a party if she/he is in need of financial assistance from the other party and the other spouse has a financial ability to pay alimony. However, the amount is based on the need of the individual as well. So, if that person’s needs change, not due to voluntary action of that party (i.e. quitting his/her job), then alimony may need to be modified accordingly.
The same is true of a downward modification of alimony, meaning a decrease in the amount of alimony to be paid. For example, Hank has an annual income of $350,0000 and Mildred has an annual income of $30,000. In this case, Hank most likely would be ordered to pay Mildred alimony. However, Hank suffers an eye injury and can no longer work in his job and is placed on disability. Hank’s income decreased due to an involuntary occurrence, meaning he most likely did not intentionally go on disability; therefore, his ability to pay alimony at the same amount is limited. Hank may be given a decrease in the alimony he is to pay Mildred or it may deemed that he can no longer pay.
In another scenario, Hank is still working at the same rate and Mildred is still making $30,000. However, Mildred decides to remarry. Once Mildred remarries, Hank may ask for a termination of his alimony obligation because Mildred is in a different, supportive relationship. Hank may ask the court to stop his alimony payments to Mildred based on this change in circumstance. The same is true if Mildred decided to move-in with someone without actually getting married. The alimony may be terminated or suspended based on that change in circumstance.
To modify alimony in Florida there must be a showing that a substantial change in circumstance has occurred. The normal threshold for such a change is a substantial increase or decrease of income, but obviously other factors, such as illness, injury, etc. can be grounds for such a modification.
If you are in need of modifying your alimony award or obligation, then you should speak with a Florida family law attorney to better understand your rights and options as they relate to your facts and situation.