If you are divorced and either making alimony payments or receiving alimony from a former spouse, you may have questions about the possible modification of those alimony payments under Florida law. As in many other matters concerning a divorce, the courts are guided by statute in making a determination as to whether an alimony modification is appropriate in a given situation. Experienced Miami alimony lawyer Sandy T. Fox regularly handles post-divorce issues, and he is here to help you determine whether a change in your current alimony situation may be appropriate. Attorney Fox is a Florida Bar Board Certified specialist in marital and family law who has advocated for many South Florida residents in your situation.
Florida Statutes § 61.14 provides instruction for a court that is presented with the issue of whether alimony should be modified in the months or years following the entry of a final divorce decree. In the simplest terms, the answer to this question hinges on a determination of whether the circumstances or the financial ability of either or both parties has changed since the decree was entered. If a court decides that there has been a substantial change in circumstances or the financial ability of one or both former spouses, the court has the power to increase the alimony obligation of the obligor spouse, decrease the alimony payments due to the receiving spouse, or terminate the alimony obligation altogether.What Is a “Change in Circumstances?”
Not just any change in a party’s life warrants a modification of alimony. For example, an ex-spouse’s decision to change jobs would not necessarily trigger an alimony modification, nor would a decision to move from one residence to another. Such changes might affect alimony, or they might not. For instance, if the paying spouse takes a new job that gives him or her a substantial boost in income, the recipient spouse might be able to get additional alimony – but only if he or she is able to prove that there is a need for the increase. For example, if the court made only a nominal award of alimony at the time of the divorce because the obligor spouse’s ability to pay alimony was very limited, even though the recipient spouse’s need for the alimony was high, the court might increase alimony based on the obligor spouse’s new, higher income. However, if the new job does not come with any meaningful change in pay or benefits, there is unlikely to be an alimony modification. Regarding the issue of a change in residence, if the move substantially reduces the recipient spouse’s living expenses, the obligor spouse might be able to convince the court to reduce or even eliminate his or her current alimony obligation, but otherwise a change in alimony is unlikely.
While there can be many changes in one’s circumstances in the years following a divorce, some of the more common triggers for a change in alimony are changes that affect a party’s ability to pay alimony, such as a job loss, a reduction in pay, retirement, illness, or incarceration. A former spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation can also be a factor triggering an alimony modification. Under Florida law, the spouse who is receiving alimony may no longer be entitled to payments if he or she remarries or enters into a “supportive relationship” with another person to whom he or she is not married. In determining whether such a relationship exists, the courts look at the extent to which the “couple” has held themselves out as married (such as using the same last name or a common mailing address), the period of time during which there has been cohabitation, the extent to which they have pooled their assets or income, and other factors set by statute.Talk to an Experienced Miami Lawyer Regarding an Alimony Modification
If you are currently making or receiving alimony payments and believe that the alimony payments should be either increased or reduced, you should talk to an attorney about your situation as soon as possible. Miami attorney Sandy T. Fox is ready to guide you through the process of pursuing an alimony modification. He represents people in Miami, Aventura, Hollywood, and throughout Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. For an appointment, call us now at 800-596-0579 or contact us online.