In the years after divorce, former spouses’ circumstances may change, rendering alimony arrangements unfair or unsuitable. In Florida, it is unacceptable to terminate or modify alimony payments without the permission of a court. However, it is possible to request an alimony modification from the court.
Under Florida law, a request for alimony modification may be granted when either party can demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances. The change must be one that was not contemplated at the time the original alimony order was entered by a court. In order to qualify as a substantial change in circumstances, the change typically must be permanent, involuntary and material.
The paying spouse may request a downward modification due to health problems, job loss, or some other circumstances that impair the ability to pay. The paying spouse may also request a reduction in alimony payments if the recipient spouse enters into a supportive relationship or gets a large raise or inheritance. The recipient spouse may request an increase in alimony if the recipient spouse becomes unable to work due to disability or another issue, resulting in increased financial need.
In some situations, a modification may be available even if the change in circumstances was voluntary. If the spouse requesting modification can prove that the voluntary change in circumstances was an intelligent decision, a court may still grant the modification. For example, if a man’s job is at risk, a court may grant a modification of his alimony payments if he takes a lower-paying job to avoid a layoff.
Keep in mind that lump sum alimony and some bridge-the-gap alimony awards cannot be modified. Additionally, your divorce settlement may contain provisions regarding alimony modifications.
If you have gone through a substantial change in circumstances, speak with an experienced Tampa Bay divorce attorney who can help you understand if an alimony modification may be available.