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Modifying Alimony Obligations After An Involuntary Reduction In Income


Permanent alimony is forever, but the amount is, by nature, modifiable.  If you keep paying alimony to your ex-spouse until one of you dies, it goes without saying that your financial circumstances will change.  For example, when you retire, your income will be lower than it was while you were working, but your ex’s financial needs may change, too, because your ex will have Social Security income that they didn’t have when you both were younger.  Divorce courts sometimes award permanent alimony in the amount of one dollar per year, just to leave the financially disadvantaged spouse the option of modifying the amount if they ever need money from their wealthier ex-spouse.  While permanent alimony awards exist in only a small minority of divorce cases, motions for modification of permanent alimony are common in cases where courts have awarded it. If you need to modify the amount of your alimony obligations, permanent or otherwise, contact a Boca Raton post-judgment modification and enforcement lawyer.

High Net Worth Dad Struggles to Keep Up With Alimony and Child Support After Economic Downturn

During Kevin and Linda’s 14-year marriage, she was out of the workforce for most of the time, raising the parties’ four children.  Meanwhile, Kevin advanced in his career in hospitality, and by the time the parties divorced, he held an upper-level management position at a hotel.  In addition to his annual salary of $225,000 per year, he earned about $300,000 per year in bonuses, so the divorce court calculated his income as $525,000 per year.  At the time of the divorce judgment, Linda was earning $31,000 per year, and the court estimated that within several years, she would achieve her maximum earning potential of about $50,000 per year.

The court ordered Kevin to pay Linda about $5,000 per month in permanent alimony; the permanent alimony award also required Kevin to pay $60,000 each December upon receiving his annual bonus.  In 2010, as a result of the recession, Kevin’s employer terminated his position.  Thus, his income was about 40 percent lower in 2010 than in previous years, and in 2011, it was even lower.  Although he could not afford to pay Linda $60,000 in December 2010, he gave her 20 percent of his severance bonus.

When Kevin went to court to modify his alimony obligations, Linda alleged that he had intentionally dissipated his severance income by buying vintage cars.  Kevin argued that he had bought the cars as an investment; since being laid off from his job at the hotel, he had started a business restoring vintage cars and reselling them.  The court agreed to modify Kevin’s alimony obligations to reflect his reduced income.

Reach Out to Our Office Today for Help

Alimony is not meant to impose an unfair or excessive burden on the paying spouse.  A post-judgment modification and enforcement lawyer can help you sort out problems with alimony and child support that arise after your divorce, including modifying the amount to reflect a change in circumstances.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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