If My Circumstances Significantly Change, Will My Alimony Payments Change?
In Florida, there are six types of alimony that a judge may order someone to pay: Bridge the Gap, Temporary, Lump Sum, Rehabilitative, Durational, and Permanent Periodic. These days, a judge will only award permanent periodic alimony when the marriage lasted for 17 or more years. Anything shorter than that is subject to durational or any of the other types of alimony. Permanent alimony can be such a scary thing for some people, especially when they start to think about oftentimes-inevitable situations, such as retirement or permanent injury. Fortunately, despite its name, permanent alimony can be modified if the seeking party can prove a significant change in circumstances.
When Alimony Can Be Modified
The modification of alimony support payments is possible in Florida if the seeking party can prove that their income has been significantly reduced, by at least 15 percent, or that an illness or other factor has lead to the inability to work. Typically, however, before making any modifications to an alimony award, a Florida judge will look at the payer’s ability to pay, and the payee’s need for alimony. If neither of these things can be proved, then the courts may reduce or eliminate alimony entirely. However, if the new alimony bill passes, the judge may order “nominal alimony,” which can be as little as one dollar, and serves only to keep the door for alimony open.
How to Modify Alimony in Florida
If you have recently experienced a significant change in circumstances, such as retirement, the loss of a job, or a serious injury or illness that made you unable to work, and if you need to modify your alimony payments so that you can live more comfortably, you will need to do the following:
- File a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Alimony.
First, you will need to file a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Alimony with your district’s family court (or the court in which you divorce was filed). You will be able to find the required paperwork on the Florida Supreme Court’s website, or you can click here.
- Information Necessary to Fill Out the Petition.
Before you fill out the petition, you will need to know the names and addresses of both parties (yourself and your spouse), the date of your divorce, the original amount of alimony and the payment schedule, and an explanation of the change in circumstances that prompted your request for a modification to the original alimony agreement. You must then take the petition to a notary public, along with a copy of the divorce decree.
- Additional Forms.
Additional forms will be requested from you when you file your petition, such as a settlement agreement, any Family Law Financial Affidavits, and a Certificate of Compliance, which certifies that each spouse was honest about their current financial situation upon the date of the divorce.
Once the paperwork is filed, it will be served to your former spouse. Your former spouse will have 20 days to respond to the petition; if they disagree to the petition, a hearing will be scheduled. You may be required to attend mediation before going to trial. At trial, the petitioning spouse will be charged with proving that the modification or decrease in alimony payments is necessary.
- Come to an Agreement.
Finally, after the judge hears your case, he or she may either request an adjustment to the original alimony support order, or your attorney and your former spouse’s attorney may have helped the two of you come to an agreement regarding the new payments. Either way, if all goes well, you should have a new settlement agreement to sign and have notarized.
Consult a Boca Raton Alimony Support Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our post-judgment modifications lawyers can help you navigate the process of modifying support orders. If not done correctly, you may find yourself strapped down with support payments that you cannot afford, and in a financial hole difficult to climb out of. Do not let alimony weigh you down – get the help you need right away, in the form of a Boca Raton post-judgment modifications attorney. Call the Law Offices of Schwartz | White today at 561-391-9943, or go online to schedule your consultation.