Modifying Alimony in Florida Following Retirement
In Florida, individuals who are ordered by the court to pay alimony can later ask a judge to modify the award. However, a court will only grant one of these requests if the petitioner can prove that a modification of the order is justified due to a change in one of the parties’ financial circumstances. For this reason, many individuals initiate alimony proceedings after retiring, as they may be on a more fixed income and unable to provide as much support as in prior years. If you or a loved one find yourself in this situation and have questions about modifying your own spousal maintenance award, please contact our dedicated Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer today for assistance.
Proving a Substantial Change in Circumstances
In order to file a successful alimony modification claim, a person must be able to prove that:
- He or she has experienced a substantial change in circumstances;
- The change in circumstances in question was not contemplated at the time of the original award; and
- The change in circumstances is material, permanent, and involuntary.
When assessing these factors in light of a payor’s retirement, Florida courts have generally held that, while the parties may have anticipated their eventual retirement at the time of the original award, they cannot always anticipate the change in the amount of income they will experience. This argument can generally be supported by proof of a substantial difference in a person’s income prior to and after retirement.
Fortunately, just because a person’s retirement is voluntary, does not mean that he or she will be barred from modifying an alimony award. The court may, however, assess the reasonableness of the party’s decision to retire when deciding to approve or deny a request for modification, which in turn requires an assessment of the:
- Payor’s age;
- Payor’s health;
- Payor’s motivation for retirement;
- The type of work in which the payor was engaged; and
- The average age of retirement for others in the same field.
Even when a person’s retirement is deemed to be reasonable, however, a court may refuse to modify an award, but only if:
- The parties entered into an agreement that foreclosed the possibility of modification; or
- The parties’ future retirement was taken into account when determining the original alimony award.
It’s also important to note that a former spouse can seek modification of an alimony award when the parties begin receiving retirement benefits. This is true for both payors and payees, both of whom can move to modify alimony when retirement benefits begin to vest, as the assets will be considered income and so are relevant to the inquiry of one party’s ability to pay alimony in light of the other’s need for it. For instance, a court could point to a payor’s substantially increased pension benefits to deny a request to lower alimony.
Schedule a Free Case Review Today
Please call dedicated Florida alimony attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 to learn more about what is required to amend an alimony award after retirement.