Making alimony payments to an ex is not exactly how most people want to be spending their hard-earned money – especially if the marriage did not end well. On the other hand, not getting enough alimony may make you feel cheated or wronged.
In either situation, you may want to modify or terminate the alimony payments ordered by the state of Florida. Can you do this, though?
Yes. Sometimes. It is possible to modify alimony payments, but not in every situation.
Generally speaking, judges make their decision about alimony carefully, using a formula created by our state. Because of this, it’s rare for alimony payments to be modified immediately after the divorce is finalized. Specific life changes or situations must present themselves first.
In this post, we’ll let you know when you can and cannot modify your alimony under Florida law.
When Florida Laws Allow for Changes in Alimony
When there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” Life happens, and sometimes it sends your budget for a loop. Or it allows one party back on their feet and gives them the ability to pay their own expenses without the help of alimony. When this happens, alimony may be altered.
For a situation to be considered a “substantial change in circumstances,” it must be unplanned or involuntary, permanent, and must make a material difference in either party’s finances. Common examples include:
- Dramatic changes in health
- Inability to go back to work (due to disability, injury, etc.)
- Substantial raise in pay
- Substantial gifts or lottery winnings
- Policy changes in medical insurance
- Involuntary termination of job
- The recipient is accused or convicted of alimony fraud/contempt of court
- One spouse passes away
The alimony recipient gets remarried or is in a supportive relationship. If the recipient of the alimony gets remarried, they will not need alimony payments from a former spouse – even if their new marriage requires additional expenses. Alimony may be terminated in this situation.
Florida also allows alimony to be terminated if the recipient is in a “supportive relationship.” These are looked at more carefully: before modifying alimony payments, a judge will consider the nature of the relationship, the finances shared and held between the couple, the length of time they have been together, and so on.
When Alimony Can’t Change
Alimony wasn’t awarded to begin with. If no alimony payment was awarded in the first place, a judge cannot reopen a divorce case and make one party pay at a later time.
Temporary or “bridge-the-gap” alimony was awarded. There are five different types of alimony payments under Florida law, but only some are available for modification. Temporary and “bridge-the-gap” alimony payments have set end dates, and cannot be modified during the time they are active.
“Durational” alimony is awarded. This is a tricky one. The amount of alimony can be modified if durational alimony is awarded. However, durational alimony has a set end date, and that end date cannot be changed.
If your circumstances are not deemed “substantial.” Your boss asks you to take a small pay cut. Your rent goes up $50. Your car breaks down and you have to pay to get it fixed.
Most likely, changes like these are not going to be substantial enough to necessitate altering your alimony payments.
If you orchestrate the change in circumstances: A change in circumstances also has to be unplanned or permanent for it to modify alimony payments. The following would not qualify:
- Quitting a job
- Purposely getting fired
If you want to modify alimony payments, you will have to fill out additional paperwork, reopen the divorce case, and possibly even go to trial. Don’t go through this process alone. Get in contact now to work with a skilled and experienced family lawyer who has your best interests in mind.