Florida Court Discusses Grounds for Increasing Alimony Payments

Florida law allows courts to order parties to pay alimony in divorce actions. Generally, the courts will take multiple things into consideration when determining what constitutes an appropriate alimony award. As such, as explained in a recent Florida opinion, a party that wishes to modify an alimony order usually must demonstrate that there has been a significant change since the order was issued in order to show the modification was warranted. If you need help with an alimony dispute, it is in your best interest to consult a Miami divorce attorney to evaluate your options.

History of the Case

It is reported that in 2019, the trial court issued a final judgment of dissolution, which included an unequal distribution of marital assets favoring the wife and nominal alimony awarded to her based on the husband’s purported lack of ability to pay. In 2020, the wife filed a petition seeking modification of the alimony arrangement, alleging that the husband had not made genuine efforts to secure comparable income since the divorce despite having significant earning potential in banking.

Allegedly, however, the wife didn’t assert any substantial and unanticipated changes in circumstances since the initial judgment. Further, during the subsequent evidentiary hearing, the wife failed to present evidence regarding the former husband’s ability to pay or available employment opportunities in his field. The husband argued that his financial situation hadn’t changed and that the modification standard wasn’t met. He provided evidence of operating a hardware store franchise, which incurred losses, and testified to his inability to find employment in banking due to technological advancements and personal factors. Despite this, the trial court granted the wife’s petition, increasing the husband’s alimony payments. The husband appealed.

Grounds for Increasing Alimony Payments

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that Florida law allows for the modification of alimony upon a substantial change in circumstances not contemplated at the time of the original judgment.

The court noted that the party seeking the modification bears the burden of proving a substantial change. In the subject case, the husband argued that the wife hadn’t met this burden, and the court ultimately agreed. Specifically, the court found that the evidence presented failed to demonstrate any substantial material change warranting a modification.

Despite the wife’s assertions, the husband’s financial situation remained largely consistent, with his handyman business operating at a loss. Moreover, the wife’s evidence didn’t refute considerations like depreciation values. The court ultimately concluded that the trial court erred in modifying alimony without sufficient grounds, noting that courts can’t require a party to deplete assets to meet alimony obligations. As such, the court reversed the order granting the modification petition.

Meet with a Trusted Miami Attorney

While Florida law grants courts the authority to award and modify alimony, the courts are nonetheless bound by statutory and case law when making such determinations. If you have questions about your rights with regard to alimony, it is advisable to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Miami alimony 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 outcome possible. You can contact us at 800-596-0579 or use the form online to arrange a meeting.