Court Examies Alimony Modifications Under Florida Law

In Florida, parties have the right to seek alimony in divorce actions. The courts will only award alimony if it is warranted under the circumstances, however. Further, the courts may amend an alimony award if the circumstances that merited alimony change. Recently, a Florida court examined whether a temporary change in employment constituted a change that warranted a reduction in alimony, ultimately ruling that it did not. If you have questions about your alimony and property rights in a Florida divorce, it is wise to talk to a knowledgeable Miami divorce lawyer.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the parties were married for twenty years. In 2013, they divorced. The trial court entered a final dissolution of the marriage that incorporated the parties’ mediated agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, the husband agreed to pay the wife permanent alimony in the amount of $13,500 each month.

It is reported that in 2020, the husband sought a modification of alimony. He asserted several grounds in support of his request, including the wife’s reported increase in earning ability. During a hearing on the matter, testimony was offered indicating that during 2020 and 2021, the wife obtained temporary part-time employment, during which she earned approximately $20 per hour and worked five to ten hours per week. Her employment ended shortly before the hearing. The trial court granted the request, and the wife appealed.

Alimony Modifications Under Florida Law

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that the trial court found that the wife’s employment, decreased expenses, and savings growth all constituted a material and substantial change in circumstances. Under Florida law, a modification of alimony will only be granted if the party seeking the medication can show that they or the other party have experienced a significant change in circumstance, the change was not considered at the time the divorce became final, and is material, sufficient, permanent, and involuntary in nature.

The court disagreed with the trial court’s ruling and ultimately held that the wife’s part-time employment for a short duration did not constitute a material and substantial change in circumstances. While Florida case law dictated that when a spouse receiving alimony obtains employment, it can serve as grounds for a downward modification of alimony, where it was not considered or contemplated at the time alimony was awarded. The court explained that this case was distinguishable from other cases in which the parties returned to work full-time or obtained additional education in that the change was not permanent. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Miami Attorney

Even if a party is awarded permanent alimony, the amount they receive may be modified if either party’s circumstances change significantly. If you have questions about your rights or obligations with regard to alimony, it is smart to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can assess the facts of your case and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly represent parties in divorce actions in Miami. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.

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