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Alimony Modifications

How Alimony Can be Modified in Florida

Roughly 400,000 individuals receive alimony in the U.S., according to Forbes. Alimony is issued in around 10% of divorces, according to Money. Most of these alimony agreements are temporary, such as bridge the gap alimony or rehabilitation alimony. Not all types of alimony can be modified. In fact, bridge the gap alimony generally cannot be modified. Furthermore, a lump sum alimony payment generally cannot be forced to be “given” back to the paying party months or years afterwards. However, if the alimony is permanent, durational, or rehabilitative, it can be modified. In order for alimony to be modified, the petitioning spouse must be able to prove that there has been a substantial change of circumstances. Under Florida Statute §61.14, this substantial change in circumstance can relate to either the paying or receiving party's life, but must be both unexpected and involuntary. And, the change in circumstances must affect the paying party's ability to pay, or the receiving party's need for alimony support.

Examples of Substantial Changes in Circumstance

In order to successfully change alimony, you need to be able to prove that you or the other party has experienced a substantial change of circumstance. Nearly everyone experiences a change in circumstance throughout their life — getting a raise, losing a job, getting a different job, having a child, getting married, being diagnosed with a serious injury or illness, going back to school—these life events are essentially unavoidable. Almost no one lives a static life in which none of these factors change. However, in order for the change in circumstance to qualify for an alimony modification, it must be permanent and involuntary, as well as material. The latter means that it has a financial repercussion. Examples include:

  • Being given a large inheritance;
  • Acquiring another type of large income gain or loss; and
  • Being remarried or entering a new relationship with another person in which a “supportive relationship” is formed.

My Spouse Has a New Partner: Can I Cut Them Off?

Many elements surrounding alimony are misunderstood. For example, it is commonly assumed that once someone who is receiving alimony remarries, they are no longer eligible to receive alimony. While this is true, it leads people to then assume that as long as they do not remarry, they can go on receiving alimony, even if they are in a Whether you are the paying party or receiving party, you may be able to modify your alimony judgment. Under Florida law, alimony duration and/or amount is modifiable under certain circumstances. In fact, as long as the original alimony settlement documents do not say “non-modifiable” and the alimony is not “bridge the gap” alimony, there is a good chance that an attorney can help you modify the alimony order. To get started, you need to contact an experienced Miami alimony modification attorney at the Florida Divorce Law Group. Upon reading the alimony agreement, we will be able to let you know what chances you have at modifying the alimony order and can help you decide what your next step is from there. 

How Alimony Can be Modified in Florida

Roughly 400,000 individuals receive alimony in the U.S., according to Forbes. Alimony is issued in around 10% of divorces, according to Money. Most of these alimony agreements are temporary, such as bridge the gap alimony or rehabilitation alimony. Not all types of alimony can be modified. In fact, bridge the gap alimony generally cannot be modified. Furthermore, a lump sum alimony payment generally cannot be forced to be “given” back to the paying party months or years afterward. However, if the alimony is permanent, durational, or rehabilitative, it can be modified. In order for alimony to be modified, the petitioning spouse must be able to prove that there has been a substantial change of circumstances. Under Florida Statute §61.14, this substantial change in circumstance can relate to either the paying or receiving party's life but must be both unexpected and involuntary. And, the change in circumstances must affect the paying party's ability to pay, or the receiving party's need for alimony support. 

Examples of Substantial Changes in Circumstance

In order to successfully change alimony, you need to be able to prove that you or the other party has experienced a substantial change of circumstance. Nearly everyone experiences a change in circumstance throughout their life — getting a raise, losing a job, getting a different job, having a child, getting married, being diagnosed with a serious injury or illness, going back to school—these life events are essentially unavoidable. Almost no one lives a static life in which none of these factors change. However, in order for the change in circumstance to qualify for an alimony modification, it must be permanent and involuntary, as well as material. The latter means that it has a financial repercussion. Examples include:

  • Gaining employment;
  • Losing employment;
  • Suffering a major health issue;

serious relationship with another person. In fact, parties who receive permanent alimony can suddenly find themselves being entirely cut off from alimony payments when they move in with their new partner, and a “supportive relationship” is established. A supportive relationship diminishes an individual's need for alimony. If it can be proven that the receiving party is in such a supportive relationship, and their need for alimony is decreased, the alimony may be modified or stopped altogether because alimony is based on need. 

Terminating Alimony Instead of Modifying it

For receiving spouses, alimony is often an essential monthly payment that helps supplement other forms of income to pay for groceries, rent, mortgage payments, and other bills. Sometimes, the receiving spouse is too old, sick, or injured to re-enter the workforce full time, and alimony is the only thing that keeps them from resorting to food stamps and public housing. In other cases, however, it becomes clear to the paying party that their former spouse does not need alimony payments anymore to survive. They may have a high-paying job of their own now that should, in theory, make them financially independent. So why, then, should the paying spouse have to continue making large monthly alimony payments? For paying parties, alimony can be a constant drain of their financial resources, prolonging the number of years they must spend at work before they can finally start looking forward to retirement. For these individuals, terminating alimony altogether is often the goal, not simply modifying it to a lower amount. In order to fully terminate alimony, you must be capable of proving to the court that your former spouse does not need alimony anymore, or that you are simply incapable of making future alimony payments. Maybe you lost a job or have to spend more time and money assisting your elderly parents. Maybe your former spouse has a good job or is in a supportive relationship. Regardless of the change in circumstances, just as you would have to prove with a modification, in order to terminate alimony that major change in life circumstances must also be permanent and involuntary. As such, you cannot strategically plan your job loss, for example. 

Call a Miami Alimony Modification Attorneys Today for Help
Here at the Florida Divorce Law Group, our Miami alimony modification attorneys assist clients who wish to increase the duration or amount of their alimony payments, as well as those who wish to decrease the duration and/or amount of the alimony they are required to pay. If you or your former spouse have experienced any type of change in circumstance that was not voluntary, and is believed to be permanent, you likely have a case to make for alimony modification. To learn more about your options, call us today at 1-866-240-0730 to schedule a free consultation.

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