Sarasota, Bradenton, and Venice, Florida Alimony Modification Lawyer
Alimony Modification Explained
In Florida, alimony, also known as spousal support, is a financial obligation one spouse may have towards the other following a divorce. Recognizing that life is not static and financial circumstances can evolve, Florida law provides mechanisms to adjust alimony payments to reflect current realities.
The Basis For Modification
According to Florida Statutes Section 61.14, alimony is modifiable when a substantial or significant change in circumstances exists. This change must be significant, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature. Common examples include a substantial decrease or increase in either person’s income, loss of employment, a health crisis, or the alimony recipient’s cohabitation in a supportive relationship.
Procedural Aspects Of Modification
To modify alimony, a petition must be filed in the circuit court that has jurisdiction over the case. This court is typically located in the county where the original order and/or Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage was entered. The petition must detail the specific changes in circumstances that warrant the modification.
Significant Change In Circumstances
In Florida, modification is contingent on a change in the financial ability of either party or the needs of the child for whom the alimony is paid. For instance, if the paying party experiences a severe income reduction, they may seek a decrease in the payment amount. Conversely, if the recipient’s need for support increases significantly, they may request an increase in alimony.
Impact Of Supportive Relationships
Florida law specifically addresses the situation where the recipient spouse enters into a supportive relationship with another individual. If this new partnership involves combined finances or the couple is living together in a manner akin to marriage, the court may consider this grounds for reducing or terminating alimony.
Retirement is another critical factor in alimony modification. The law permits a reduction or termination of alimony payments when the payer reaches the usual retirement age and retires. The court examines various factors, such as the age and health of the retiree, the standard retirement age for their occupation, and the financial impact on the recipient spouse.
Delinquency And Enforcement Mechanisms
If alimony payments fall behind, the delinquency can automatically become a final judgment against the payer. This could lead to additional enforcement mechanisms such as wage garnishment. Obligors in arrears may also be mandated by the court to seek employment and report their job search efforts.
Termination Of Child Support Obligations
Florida law generally terminates the obligation to pay child support when the child reaches the age of majority, which is 18. However, if there are outstanding arrears, the obligor must continue payments until the full amount due is paid.
Temporary Support Orders
The statutes also address temporary support orders, which can be modified without proving a substantial change in circumstances if good cause is shown. The modification can be retroactive to the date of the initial temporary order or the date of the filing of the initial petition.
Both parties should maintain thorough documentation of their financial status and seek legal counsel to navigate the modification process effectively. This ensures that any alimony adjustments are fair, equitable, and reflective of the current circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Alimony Modification
What Constitutes A “Substantial Change In Circumstances” For Alimony Modification In Florida?
A substantial change in circumstances may include a significant increase or decrease in either party’s income, involuntary loss of employment, a serious health condition affecting the ability to earn income, or the recipient entering into a supportive relationship.
Can Alimony Be Modified If The Recipient Lives With A New Partner?
Yes, Florida law allows for the modification of alimony if the recipient is in a supportive relationship with a person not related by blood or marriage, which financially contributes to the recipient’s support.
How Does Retirement Affect Alimony Payments?
The payer’s retirement at the normal retirement age as defined by the Social Security Administration, or at the customary retirement age for their profession, can be grounds for the modification, reduction, or termination of alimony payments.
Can Alimony Be Modified Retroactively In Florida?
Yes, the court may modify alimony retroactively to the date of the filing of the action or supplemental action for modification, as long as equity requires it.
What Happens To Alimony If The Payer Becomes Unemployed Or Underemployed?
If the payer is unable to meet their alimony obligations due to unemployment or underemployment, the court may require them to seek employment or participate in job training programs.
Is It Possible To Modify Alimony Without A Change In Circumstances?
Yes, temporary alimony support orders can be modified without a substantial change in circumstances if good cause is shown, and the court may retroactively modify these orders to the date of their initial entry.
What Happens If Alimony Payments Are Delinquent?
Delinquent payments can become a final judgment against the payer by law, and the court may enforce various measures to collect the unpaid support, including garnishment of wages.
Does Cohabitation Automatically Terminate Alimony In Florida?
Not automatically. Cohabitation must be shown to constitute a supportive relationship that contributes financially to the alimony recipient, which could then lead to a reduction or termination of alimony.
When Does The Obligation To Pay Child Support End In Florida?
The obligation typically ends when the child reaches 18 years of age, but it does not terminate any arrearage or retroactive support owed at the time of the child’s emancipation.
Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, and Venice, Florida Alimony Modification Lawyer
Modifying alimony in Florida requires a nuanced understanding of the law and a careful analysis of one’s changed circumstances. It involves a legal process that considers both the payer’s ability to pay and the recipient’s financial needs.
If you’re grappling with changes in your life that could impact your alimony arrangements, or if you’re unsure whether your situation qualifies for a modification, we’re here to help. Don’t navigate the complexities of Florida’s alimony modification laws alone. Contact the Law Offices of Matthew Z. Martell, P.A. at (941) 556-7020, or visit our website to schedule a 30 minute Free Initial Phone consultation. Our Florida alimony attorney, Matthew Z. Martell, can assist you through the process with personalized and helpful legal counsel.
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