Alimony Modification in Florida
Alimony modification in Florida, or a change (increase or decrease) in an alimony amount or duration is a decision made by a family law judge after one of the parties has filed a petition for modification.
Florida Statutes 61.14 govern modification, when “the circumstances or the financial ability of either party changes.”
Either party may move to alter amount or duration. The judge will render opinion when giving “due regard to the changed circumstances of the financial ability of the parties.
You can modify alimony retroactively to the date of the filing of the petition.
The party that files the petition has the burden of proof, which means the filer of the petition has to show that has been a substantial change in the circumstances that were not foreseeable at the time of the final hearing. Canarakis v. Canarakis, 383 So. 2d 1197, 1201 (Fla. 1992)
This is a “heavier burden than usual burden of proof,” as Pimm v.Pimm, 601 So. 2d 534, 537 (Fla. 1992), points out because the filer does not just have to show the existence of a difference but also that it was unanticipated.
Alimony Modification in Florida: The 3 Requirements
There are three requirements that you must show for an alimony modification in Florida to be successful.
First, there must be a substantial change in circumstances from the original alimony order.
Second, this difference in facts must not have been a foreseeable reality at the time of the final judgment.
Third, the “change is sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature.” Woolf v. Woolf. 901 So. 2d 905 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005)
If all three requirements, the modification of alimony will not be successful.
What Does This Mean?
First, the change in circumstances has to be significant, which means the payor’s (the one paying alimony) financial situations to really change for the better or the worse; or the payee’s (the one receiving alimony) financial need have to either decrease or increase greatly.
For example, if the Former wife receives alimony during the divorce trial because she is unemployed and does not have any work history.
After the divorce, she discovers that she is very talented at painting and begins selling her artwork, earning $100,000/year.
This is definite change that would significantly impact the award of alimony.
Second, the change based on the alimony modification in Florida is not foreseeable at the time of the final hearing.
Going back to our example, if former wife only started painting as a pastime after the divorce and it was then that she discovered that she could sell her art, this would not be something that the court could have considered when first awarding alimony.
Finally, we must consider if the change is “sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent.”
In our example, in that the change is sufficient because now the wife has a profitable business, which changes the financial situation of the parties, and it is something that she will continue doing, then there is a good chance that the court would modify (in this case, lower) the alimony amount because the situation has changed and the wife’s need (due to her new income) would no longer be the same.
Call Us Today To Help With Alimony Modification
If alimony has been ordered in your divorce, and you think that it needs to be changed based on the factors above, you should contact a family law attorney that is experienced with alimony modification in Florida.