Can I Ask the Court to Change My Alimony Order if My Finances Have Changed?
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the health, personal lives, and finances of millions of U.S. residents, many of whom live in Florida. Financial uncertainty in particular, can have particularly serious repercussions for those responsible for extra expenses, such as alimony payments. Fortunately, courts are willing to modify an alimony award in the face of a payor’s job loss, pay cut, or financial instability. Proving that one’s circumstances have changed enough to justify such a change, however, can be an uphill battle, making it especially important for those who find themselves suffering financially during this time, to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer who can help you present a strong case to the court.
Modifying an Alimony Award Due to a Change in Finances
The primary purpose of alimony is to provide financially for a spouse who has fewer employment opportunities, during and after a divorce. Courts do, however, recognize that a family’s circumstances can change a lot in a short amount of time and so are willing to reevaluate alimony awards down the road if necessary. The process begins with a petitioner requesting a modification, at which point, the court will assess each party’s financial circumstances, as well as whether there are legal grounds for a modification, which in Florida, means that one of the parties has experienced a substantial change in circumstances that is:
- Unanticipated; and
- Material, involuntary, and permanent.
For help determining whether your own change in circumstances justifies a modification of your alimony award, please call our office today.
Determining whether a person has experienced a significant life change can be complicated, but courts have generally shown a willingness to grant a modification in cases where one of the parties has experienced an involuntary loss of employment. However, even in these cases, the petitioner will still want to provide proof that he or she has been searching for employment, but has been unable to obtain a job with the same amount of pay. Alternatively, proof of a decrease in income for a year or more can also help convince a court that a person’s change in circumstances is substantial.
It’s important to note that a willingness to modify alimony usually only applies to involuntary unemployment, so if a person leaves a job of his or her own free will, a court will almost always deny a request to modify alimony. In fact, a judge can even impute income to the unemployed or underemployed spouse, requiring him or her to pay alimony in an amount that his or her previous job would have supported. Similarly, courts are generally unwilling to reduce alimony payments due to the petitioner’s choice to incur new debt, which has in turn made it difficult to meet his or her support obligation. A party’s promotion or pay raise will also not be enough to justify a modification. Instead, the party requesting the modification will also need to provide proof that not only has the payor experienced financial growth, but that he or she also has an increased need for financial assistance.
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Contact experienced alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today or complete an online contact from to get in touch with a member of our team.