Court Discusses Alimony Modifications Under Florida Law

Florida law permits the courts to grant alimony in certain divorce actions. Alimony awards are based, in part, on the party’s income, assets, and needs. As such, if a party’s financial status changes after the court issues an order granting alimony, the party may seek a modification. As discussed in a recent Florida ruling, modifications will only be granted in certain scenarios, and if a court denies a request for a modification, it does not have to set forth factual findings in support of its ruling. If you want to learn more about your rights with regard to alimony, it is smart to talk to a Miami divorce lawyer.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and the wife divorced in 2003 after a marriage that lasted over 22 years. The Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage incorporated the parties’ marital settlement agreement, which required the husband to pay the wife permanent periodic alimony of $750 bi-weekly. More than fourteen years after the divorce, the husband filed an Amended Supplemental Petition to eliminate or reduce the alimony payments.

Reportedly, during the trial on the husband’s petition, he abandoned his claim that his ability to pay alimony had diminished. Instead, he sought a reduction because the wife’s income had increased. The husband acknowledged income earned as a full-time college professor and his pension. In contrast, the wife testified that her standard of living had declined significantly, stating she was driving a 21-year-old car, residing with her adult daughter, and struggling to make ends meet. The court denied the husband’s petition, and he appealed.

Alimony Modifications Under Florida Law

On appeal, the court found that the trial court acted within its discretion in denying the petition. Specifically, the court noted that the trial court determined that there was no legally sufficient change in circumstances that would warrant a modification of alimony, as the wife still had a continuing need for alimony based on her reduced standard of living compared to the time of their marriage.

The court emphasized that permanent periodic alimony serves to maintain the recipient’s needs and necessities of life as established during the marriage. The statute guiding the modification of alimony requires courts to consider the changed circumstances or financial abilities of both parties. Although the husband argued that the trial court erred by not making specific findings concerning certain statutory factors, the court held that these factors should only be considered after a legally sufficient change in circumstances has been established. As such, it affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Talk to a Trusted Miami Attorney

Under Florida law, parties can request modifications of alimony awards, but if they fail to demonstrate that the changes they seek are warranted, their request will most likely be denied. If you need assistance with an alimony issue, it is wise to talk to an attorney. The trusted Miami family law lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can assess the facts of your case and aid you in seeking the best legal outcome possible. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to arrange a conference.