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Modifying the Amount of Permanent Alimony Many Years After Divorce


How would you feel you just received a copy of your spouse’s divorce petition and, in addition to being blindsided about the demise of your marriage, you found out that your spouse wants you to pay more than half of your income in alimony?  You would probably lawyer up and try to make the strongest possible argument for decreasing the amount of alimony, or at least the duration.  If your lawyer tells you that permanent alimony is an option in your divorce, you might be horrified, as are the participants in a growing movement to abolish permanent alimony in Florida.  For some couples, though permanent alimony is an uncontroversial matter.  The parties agreed when they married that they would be a single-income family, and when they divorced, they agreed on an amount of permanent alimony that they both considered fair.  For those couples, the trouble comes if the supporting spouse has an unexpected reduction in income. If this describes your situation, a Palm Beach County alimony lawyer can help you legally modify your alimony obligations to reflect your current situation.

When the Wealthier Spouse Suffers a Career Setback Shortly Before Retirement

James and Jacqueline were married for 34 years; when they divorced in 2004, James had embarked on a successful civilian career after retiring from the military.  Both parties were in their 50s, and their children had reached adulthood.  James was earning $12,500 per month, not including the income from his military pension. In their marital settlement agreement, the parties agreed that James would pay Jacqueline $4,200 per month in permanent alimony; she would also receive half of James’s military pension.

The problems began in 2011, James was laid off from his job.  He found a new job the following year, but the income for his new job was based entirely on commission.  In 2013, hi average monthly income was slightly less than $6,000.  Meanwhile, the marital settlement agreement sill required him to pay Jacqueline $4,200 per month.  Thus, he was obligated to put more than two thirds of his income toward alimony.  The trial court rejected his motion to modify alimony without making findings about his change in economic circumstances.  James appealed the decision, and the appeals court ruled that it was not proper for the trial court to reject his motion to modify alimony without making findings.  The appeals court remanded the case too the trial court to make findings and determine whether James’ change in financial circumstances was, in fact, substantial, involuntary, and permanent.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

You might agree to permanent alimony at a time when you think that business will always be good and that you will always be healthy enough to work.  Life can hope to anyone, though, and if you signed up for permanent alimony, your alimony obligations will not change unless you officially have the court modify them.  Contact the Boca Raton alimony lawyers at Schwartz | White for help with your case.



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