Florida Court Denies Alimony Modification Request Due to Voluntary Reduction in Income

In many marriages, one spouse will earn a far greater income than the other. If a couple with disparate incomes subsequently divorces, the lesser-earning party will often request spousal support. In determining whether to grant such support, the courts will assess not only the requesting party’s need but also the responding party’s ability to pay. Once a court issues an order directing a party to pay alimony, it generally is not subject to modification absent evidence of a material and enduring change in circumstances. The change must be involuntary as well, as discussed in a recent Florida case in which the court denied the husband’s request for modification of a permanent spousal support obligation. If you or your spouse intend to end your marriage and you want to learn more about the economic impact of the decision, it is in your best interest to speak with a Miami divorce attorney.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and the wife were married for twenty-eight years before divorcing in 2014. During the divorce action, the parties agreed that the husband would pay the wife permanent spousal support in the amount of $1,000 each month. When they made the agreement, the husband worked as a mechanical millwright.

Reportedly, six years after the divorce, the husband left his job. He then filed a petition to modify or terminate his spousal support obligation on the grounds that he developed a disability and could not perform his job requirements, causing a significant decrease in pay. The court held a hearing after which it determined that the husband failed to prove he had a disability and that his decision not to work was voluntary and would not support a request for a modification. The husband appealed.

Demonstrating a Change in Circumstances is Involuntary

The court explained that as the moving party, the husband bore the burden of showing that a substantial change in circumstances occurred, the change was not contemplated by the court at the time the final dissolution of judgment was entered, and the chance was involuntary, material, and permanent in nature. Upon review, the court found that the trial court’s ruling was supported by substantial and competent evidence. Specifically, the court found that the husband failed to show that his reduction in income was involuntary. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Dedicated Miami Attorney

Parties cannot avoid spousal support obligations by voluntarily reducing their income, and if they attempt to do so, their efforts will most likely be rejected. If you have questions about whether you or your spouse may be obligated to pay spousal support if you divorce, it is wise to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The dedicated Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can inform you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal result available under the facts of your case. Our office is located in Aventura, and we regularly represent people in divorce actions in Miami. You can reach us via our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a consultation.