When and Why Can Alimony Be Modified?
When going through a divorce, monetary payments that make up child and spousal support are calculated pursuant to a very specific algorithm contained within the Florida Statutes. There is always a consideration of child support for the custodial parent, and sometimes spousal support payments (alimony) to the former spouse. The calculation of alimony is carried out in accordance with the Florida Statutes, however, alimony payments may or may not be granted and are determined on a case-by-case basis.
Understanding Types of Alimony
If you are looking to modify your alimony payment, the first thing that must be taken into consideration when it comes to alimony modification is the type of alimony that was initially ordered:
- Rehabilitative Alimony – This is the type of alimony that is meant to help the receiving spouse establish their own support. It is meant to end once the spouse is self-sufficient.
- Durational Alimony – This type of alimony is ordered for a set amount of time determined by the court. The distinction between this type of alimony and rehabilitative alimony is that it will be modified by the amount and not necessarily the duration.
- Permanent Alimony – This type of alimony is often the easiest to modify. This alimony is usually order for the entire life of the receiving party or until that person remarries.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – This type of alimony is meant to ease the transition from married life to single life. It is usually established for no longer than two years and is rarely modified due to its short duration.
What is a Modification?
A modification is a request made to the court to change an existing court order due to a change in the circumstances of the parents or child. The division of property and divorce debt usually cannot be modified. Alimony, child custody, and child support orders can be modified when there is a change in circumstances.
Either party may request a modification of the alimony, or spousal support, when there has been a significant change of circumstances. A change of circumstances that would generally qualify for a modification of alimony occurs when one party’s income increases or decreases by 15% or more. Some examples of situations that may result in this change of circumstances include the loss of a job, the sudden disability of one of the parents, or the greater need of a child, increased cost of living, or illness of the parent or child just to name a few. The party trying to change the spousal support order of the court has the burden of proving that the change is “sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent.”
It is important to acquire documentary support for the change of circumstance before filing for an adjustment to alimony payments, because if you do not meet the requirements set forth in Florida Statutes, the request will likely be denied. A “substantial change in circumstances” means an unanticipated change at the time the court ordered the alimony. In addition to the circumstances listed above, additional things that may constitute a significant change in circumstances include: a large inheritance or lottery winnings or the person receiving the alimony payment remarries or cohabitates with a significant other. Remember, the party trying to change the alimony has the responsibility to prove the substantial change in circumstances.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
To have the best chance of a successful modification, you need to work with an Orlando family lawyer who can present your case in the most favorable way for you. Contact the attorneys at O’Mara Law Group today to schedule a consultation.