Can I Modify Alimony Payments?
In a divorce proceeding in Florida, the court can grant alimony to either spouse under Florida law. Accordingly, if the court grants alimony to one of the spouses, it can require the other spouse to make those alimony payments. As you may know, Florida law recognizes a number of different types of alimony. A Florida court can award bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent alimony in a proceeding for the dissolution of marriage. The court can also order that the paying spouse make those payments periodically or as a lump sum. Regardless of the type of alimony that a court awards, if you are making periodic payments and have a substantial change in circumstances, it may be possible to modify alimony payments. In some cases, it may be possible to modify the duration of an alimony award, as well.
However, it is important to understand that asking the court to modify alimony is a significant undertaking. You cannot make a decision on your own about modifying the amount of alimony you pay. Failing to make the alimony payments as the court has ordered them can result in serious consequences. If you need help modifying an alimony award, you should seek advice from an Orlando divorce lawyer. In the meantime, we will tell you more about the general requirements for modifying alimony in Florida.
Substantial Change in Circumstances
If you want to petition the court to modify an alimony award, you will need to be able to show that you have experienced a substantial change in circumstances. There is no single definition of a substantial change in circumstances. However, there are certain life situations that may be considered a substantial change in circumstances that would permit an alimony modification. Some examples include but are not limited to the following:
- Getting laid off from work and being unable to find another job quickly;
- Demoted to a lesser-paying job;
- Suffering a serious injury; or
- Becoming disabled and unable to work.
To have an alimony award modified so that the payment is less than what the court ordered, the substantial change in circumstances would need to result in you having less income (or no income) in comparison to your income when the court ordered alimony.
Change in Circumstances Cannot Be to Avoid Paying Alimony
If you want to ask the court to modify an alimony award based on a substantial change in circumstances, you cannot have quit your job or taken a lesser-paying job for the purposes of avoiding your alimony payment or having the alimony award modified to a lesser amount. The Florida Supreme Court has made clear that alimony “must be based on present ability to pay, not future projections,” but that any situation in which a “party has voluntarily limited his/her income” can result in income being imputed.
Imputing income means the court will determine the appropriate alimony amount based on what the party would have been making if she or he had not quit a job or taken a lesser-paying job for the purposes of limiting alimony payments.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer in Orlando
Do you have questions about modifying an alimony award in Florida? An Orlando divorce lawyer can help. Contact Anderson & Ferrin for more information.