Modification of Alimony
Florida has five types of alimony (also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance) that may be awarded to divorcing spouses: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, permanent, or temporary.
If a spouse requires additional alimony or a paying spouse has a change in circumstances requiring an alimony reduction, the court may modify alimony, when there is a "showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances."
Only courts have the power to formally modify alimony awards. Failure to pay alimony without filing the proper petition—even when there has been a legitimate substantial change in circumstances—can result in the obligor (the parent required to pay alimony) facing possible sanctions.
Such sanctions may include being ordered to pay the attorney fees of the obligee (the parent who receives the alimony) or possible imprisonment.
Attorney for Modification of Alimony in West Palm Beach, FL
Are you or your spouse hoping to modify an order of support in South Florida? You will want to contact Quality Family Law as soon as possible for help achieving the most favorable possible outcome to your alimony modification petition.
Our divorce lawyers in West Palm Beach represent clients in Delray Beach, Wellington, Jupiter, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, and many surrounding areas of Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County.
Call (561) 693-3126 to have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Modification of Alimony in Palm Beach County
- What is considered a substantial change in circumstances?
- Which factors does the court consider when an obligee remarries?
- Where can I find more information about modification of alimony in West Palm Beach?
In Pimm v. Pimm, 601 So.2d 534, 536 (Fla.1992), the Supreme Court of Florida held that in petitioning to modify alimony, the moving party must show three fundamental prerequisites:
- There must be a substantial change in circumstances. Chastain v. Chastain, 73 So.2d 66 (Fla. 1954);
- The change was not contemplated at the time of final judgment of dissolution. Withers v. Withers, 390 So.2d 453 (Fla. 2d DCA 1980),; and
- The change is sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature. Servies v. Servies, 524 So.2d 678 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988).
Examples of circumstances that may constitute substantial, material, and unanticipated changes in circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- Serious health issues;
- Pay raises or newfound benefits;
- Long-term unemployment or other involuntary factors impacting an obligor's ability to pay;
- Gifts, inheritances, or lottery winnings;
- Obligor's retirement; or
- Remarriage of obligee.
It is important to understand that in many cases, a change in circumstances that is the result of an obligor or obligee's voluntary decisions is rarely a justify for a modification to alimony. As the Second District Court of Appeal of Florida stated in Cowie v. Cowie, 564 So.2d 533 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990), obligations voluntarily created by one party are not sufficient grounds to modify the amount of alimony.
A court may make an exception for certain types of voluntary obligations, such as reductions in income because of educational pursuits relating to possible career enhancement.
Bridge-the-gap alimony cannot be modified under any circumstances. Rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, and permanent alimony can all be modified when there is a substantial change in financial circumstances for either spouse.
One common reason for alimony modification petitions is the remarriage of an obligee. Under Florida Statute § 61.14(1)(b)2., a court must "elicit the nature and extent of the relationship in question" when determining whether an existing alimony award should be reduced or terminated because of a supportive relationship between an obligee and a person who is not related by consanguinity or affinity and with whom the obligee resides.
When “determining the relationship of an obligee to another person,” the court must "give consideration, without limitation, to circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:
- The extent to which the obligee and the other person have held themselves out as a married couple by engaging in conduct such as using the same last name, using a common mailing address, referring to each other in terms such as “my husband” or “my wife,” or otherwise conducting themselves in a manner that evidences a permanent supportive relationship;
- The period of time that the obligee has resided with the other person in a permanent place of abode;
- The extent to which the obligee and the other person have pooled their assets or income or otherwise exhibited financial interdependence;
- The extent to which the obligee or the other person has supported the other, in whole or in part;
- The extent to which the obligee or the other person has performed valuable services for the other;
- The extent to which the obligee or the other person has performed valuable services for the other’s company or employer;
- Whether the obligee and the other person have worked together to create or enhance anything of value;
- Whether the obligee and the other person have jointly contributed to the purchase of any real or personal property;
- Evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the other person have an express agreement regarding property sharing or support;
- Evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the other person have an implied agreement regarding property sharing or support; and
- Whether the obligee and the other person have provided support to the children of one another, regardless of any legal duty to do so.
Family Law Forms | Florida Courts — On this section of the Florida Courts website, you can downlaod various alimony forms. Find forms for Supplemental Petition to Modify Parenting Plan/Time-Sharing Schedule and Other Relief, Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support, Supplemental Petition for Modification of Alimony, Supplemental Petition for Temporary Modification of Parenting Issues for Child(ren) of Parent Activated, Deployed, or Temporarily Assigned to Military Service. You can also read about how the forms work and find basic instructions (step-by-step) to fill out the forms.
Florida Statute § 61.14 | Enforcement and modification of support, maintenance, or alimony agreements or orders. — View the full text of the state laws governing alimony in Florida. The statute covers what happens when parties enter into an agreement for alimony, when a court may reduce or terminate an award of alimony, and when a party applies for a reduction of alimony or child support. The statute also discusses what happens when a party is delinquent in making a payment.
Quality Family Law | West Palm Beach Modification of Alimony Lawyer
If you or your spouse is seeking to modify an existing alimony award in South Florida, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Quality Family Law represents individuals in communities throughout Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade County, and Broward County, such as Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres, and many others.
Our West Palm Beach divorce attorneys understand how complex alimony modification petitions can be, and our firm works tirelessly to help clients achieve desired alimony hearing outcomes. You can have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call (561) 693-3126 or fill out an online form to receive a free initial consultation.
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