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Can an alimony order be modified in Florida

Last week we discussed the basics of alimony in Florida. We covered what factors a court takes into consideration when deciding if alimony is appropriate, as well as the different types of payment options.

But what happens if months, or even years, after the alimony order is set, you are unable to make your payments? Can this order be modified? The answer: it depends.

Every alimony agreement or judgment (unless there is a specific waiver) allows for a modification, according to Florida case law. But it’s not as easy as just asking for a modification. The person asking for the change (whether that person is the payer or the payee) needs to establish that there has been a change in circumstances that he or she did not anticipate when the agreement was originally made.

The court will look at many factors when making a modification decision. For example, if the payer is dealing with reduced income, was it voluntary? If so, it will not lead to a reduction. On the other hand, if a payer reduced his or her income in order to pursue education to enhance his or her career, it may not be considered a voluntary income reduction.

Courts will also take other factors into consideration, such as whether the payer is retiring and on what basis. Another important factor is whether the payment was meant to provide support or if it was a property settlement. Property settlements are typically not modifiable. Alimony could also be changed if the receiving party enters into a relationship where finances are being comingled. This does not necessarily have to be a marriage.

Because it may be difficult to prove a need for a modification in a Florida courtroom, it may help to work with a lawyer to prove your case.

Source: The Banner, “It’s The Law: The alimony can be modified,” William G. Morris,“ July 20, 2014

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