Florida Court Discusses Grounds for Modifying Alimony Awards

There are different types of alimony the Florida courts can award in divorce proceedings, including permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is not as permanent as the name suggests but can be adjusted if a court finds that a modification is warranted. The court will only grant a modification if there is evidence that it is necessary due to a change in circumstances that is both material and substantial, however, as demonstrated in a recent Florida case. If you have questions regarding alimony or the financial ramifications of divorce, it is smart to confer with a knowledgeable Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the wife filed a petition to modify the periodic payment of permanent alimony awarded to the husband via a marital settlement agreement that was adopted by the trial court as part of the parties’ divorce judgment. Specifically, she requested that the court impute income to the husband based on the fact that he was eligible to receive Social Security benefits, even though he had not applied for such benefits. The court denied her petition, finding that she failed to adequately prove that there had been a material and substantial change in either her or the husband’s circumstances that warranted a modification. The wife then appealed.

Grounds for Modifying Alimony Awards

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it stated that pursuant to established case law, a trial court cannot impute the value of Social Security benefits that a person is eligible to receive but has not yet applied for as income to a person if they offer evidence showing that their decision to defer the benefits is merely a prudent investment strategy, as their benefits will increase if they do not take them until a later date.

Without a stipulation in the marital settlement agreement, a finding in the divorce judgment that the parties contemplated retirement at a certain age, or some other compelling reason, the court found that there was no basis for deviating from established case law. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling, finding that it correctly determined that the wife failed to sufficiently establish that a substantial and material change in circumstances that warranted a modification of the alimony award had occurred.

Meet with an Assertive Miami Attorney

The courts determine what constitutes an appropriate alimony award based on the income of the parties, and if that income changes, a modification of the award may be necessary. If you have questions about alimony, it is prudent to meet with an attorney. The assertive Miami attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., can inform you of your rights and aid you in pursuing the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. We have an office in Aventura, and we frequently represent people in family law matters in Miami. You can contact us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a consultation.