Can alimony be modified?

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While alimony can be modified, just because you request a modification it doesn’t mean you will get one.

It is not a matter of simply going before a judge and telling him or her that you no longer can pay what you have been paying your ex-spouse. These cases must be prepared carefully and those seeking a modification must be able to state a legal basis for the change.

Under Florida statute 61.13, the trial court judge has the discretion as to whether alimony will be modified. It provides that when “the circumstances or the financial ability of either party changes” either party may apply for an order decreasing or increasing the amount of alimony and the court has jurisdiction to make orders as equity requires, with “due regard to the changed circumstances of the financial ability of the parties.”

The party seeking the modification carries the burden to justify the reduction by having to prove a substantial change in circumstances since the original alimony order and that the change in circumstances was not contemplated at the time of the final order of dissolution.

The change also has to be “sufficient, material, involuntary and permanent in nature.” In other words, the party seeking a reduction can’t quit a job that paid them $100,000 a year accepting a job that pays significantly less. When it comes to being permanent in nature, this depends on the facts and circumstances of a particular case.

Should the spouse paying alimony choose to retire, the court can take that into consideration. However, that doesn’t mean there will be an automatic reduction or termination of alimony. The court has to consider the age of the payor, his or her health and the reason for their decision to retire as well as the financial circumstances of the recipient.
There are many scenarios that can be contemplated when seeking modification of alimony. Modifications require the consultation and assistance of an attorney who understands the process, the risks and the likelihood of success.

If you are interested in a consultation or have questions do not hesitate to contact Barkus Law. Simply click here and send us a message and we will get right back to you.