Sarasota Alimony Modification
If you have been ordered by the court to make alimony payments to your spouse, you likely know that these payment amounts are based on several factors. In ordering alimony, the court most likely looked at whether there was a need for alimony and the ability of the paying spouse to afford to make alimony payments. What you may not know is that alimony is rarely permanent, and there are a variety of reasons why alimony should cease or be modified at some later point. If you are looking to modify your alimony payments, you have options. The Sarasota family lawyer at Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. specialize in divorce and divorce-related legal matters. We put our clients first and pride ourselves on being compassionate, aggressive attorneys who will fight hard to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome. For a consultation, reach out to us today by calling (941) 556-7020 or by contacting us online.
What Is Alimony?
Following a divorce, alimony payments may be awarded to one spouse for a specific amount of time or, in some cases, indefinitely. This means that one spouse must pay the other a certain amount of money, set by the court or by agreement, which is usually outlined in the divorce decree.
There are a few types of alimony. Depending on your specific situation, you may be ordered to pay temporary alimony, permanent periodic alimony, lump sum alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, or durational alimony. The common theme among all the types of alimony is the idea that the court will only grant alimony if there is a need and the paying spouse is able to pay. There are several factors the court will look at in deciding to grant alimony and the amount to be paid. Some of those factors are:
- The length of the marriage – The longer the marriage went on, the more likely that alimony will be awarded. Standard of living during the marriage – If the couple enjoyed a high standard of living during the marriage, the court would likely award an alimony amount that will allow both spouses to maintain that standard after divorce.
- The physical health and age of the spouses – An older spouse or a spouse in poor health may be more likely to receive alimony if they do not have significant assets or income.
- The education, skills, and earning capacity of the spouses – A spouse who lacks the education, skills, or work history to earn an adequate income is more likely to receive alimony than highly educated, skilled spouses.
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking alimony – A spouse that has a trust fund or significant assets is less likely to receive alimony than a spouse without any financial resources.
Alimony can be modified if there is a change in circumstances that impacts the need for alimony or the paying spouse’s ability to pay. In other words, alimony can be reduced or eliminated if something happens that causes it to no longer be necessary for the receiving party, or impossible for the paying party to pay. To modify alimony, the paying spouse may need to petition the court.
This means that legal documents will need to be filed with the court, and there may be a hearing in front of a judge.
While alimony may be modified by an agreement of the spouses at any time, the modified alimony will need to be approved by the judge. If there is no agreement, then both spouses will have an opportunity to make arguments as to why it should or should not be modified.
The law in Florida says that alimony may be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances that were unanticipated at the time alimony was granted. Some examples of a substantial change in circumstances are:
- The receiving spouse gets remarried
- Health issues affect the paying spouse
- The paying spouse goes through a loss of employment
- The receiving spouse commits fraud
- The receiving spouse gets a pay raise or a better job
- The receiving spouse gets an inheritance
- The paying spouse retires
- The paying spouse suffers a loss of income
It is important to understand that just because a spouse has suffered a loss in income does not mean that it will qualify as a substantial change in circumstances. The court is tasked with looking at the evidence to decide whether a substantial change in circumstance has occurred. In determining what qualifies as a substantial change in circumstances, the court will look at income documents, marriage records, probate filings, medical records, and any other evidence that will support a claim that alimony is no longer necessary for the receiving party or isn’t within the paying party’s reasonable means to pay.
While most forms of alimony can be modified, some alimony by agreement may not be. If both spouses agreed to non-modifiable alimony, then you may not be able to petition the court to modify it for any reason. Since non-modifiable alimony can only exist by agreement, the court will never force this type of alimony on a couple. As a result, you should never agree to an alimony payment without first consulting with an experienced divorce attorney about the consequences and effects of the agreed-upon alimony provision.
Sarasota Alimony Attorneys
Life changes can make the continuance of alimony unfair or impractical. When this happens, you will need the help of an experienced divorce and alimony attorney to guide you through this process and to help you secure the outcome most favorable to you. The Sarasota alimony lawyer at the Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. is experienced, knowledgeable, and hard-working. We pride ourselves on accountability, which means that we will keep you informed about the status of your case and supply you with an honest estimate of the cost of our services. Whether you are seeking alimony or attempting to modify an existing amount, we can help. For a consultation, reach out to us today by calling (941) 556-7020, or contacting us online. We look forward to speaking with you.