Alimony, or spousal maintenance, is monetary support provided by one former spouse to another after divorce. Alimony awards can either be temporary or permanent, depending on whether they are rehabilitative in nature and while these designations are usually permanent, they can be changed. However, modifying an alimony award can be difficult, as it requires the petitioning spouse to prove that he or she has undergone a substantial change in circumstances. This can be a difficult threshold to meet, so if you were awarded alimony as a part of your divorce, or were ordered to make regular alimony payments, and have recently undergone a significant change in circumstances that now makes the previous order difficult or impossible to comply with, you should consider consulting with an experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney who can help you present your case to the judge.
Grounds for Modification
Once courts have awarded alimony to a former spouse, they are usually unwilling to modify those orders except in certain circumstances, namely when one or both parties can prove that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. Changes in circumstances that have been deemed substantial enough to justify a modification of alimony include:
- Job loss;
- The remarriage of one or both parties;
- Death; or
- Cohabitation of the receiving spouse if that individual is also receiving financial support from his or her significant other.
To begin the process of petitioning a court to modify an alimony award, a person must file a Supplemental Petition for Modification of Alimony with the circuit family court in the county where the original award was ordered.
Completing the Petition for Modification
When completing the petition for the modification of alimony, the petitioning party must list the names and addresses of both parties involved in the action, as well as:
- The date of the original divorce;
- Details about the amount of alimony and the payment schedule; and
- An explanation of the substantial change in circumstances that prompted the request for a modification.
The petition must then be signed and notarized before being submitted to the clerk of court, at which point, the petitioner must also submit a copy of the original divorce decree, as well as:
- Financial affidavits that detail each party’s financial situation; and
- A certificate of compliance, which states that both parties truthfully disclosed all necessary financial information to the court.
In the event that the parties were able to reach an agreement regarding modification in an out-of-court setting, then the petitioner must also include a copy of the signed and notarized settlement agreement reached by the parties. If, on the other hand, the parties were only able to agree on some, but not all of the changes, the modifications not agreed upon will either be referred to mediation or decided by the court.
Once submitted, the petition for modification is delivered to the other spouse who has 20 days to file an answer or counter petition. The court will then schedule a hearing or trial, at which point, the petitioner will be required to prove that he or she is entitled to the modification.
Call Our Office Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you have questions about modifying an alimony award, please call 954-945-7591 to schedule a free case evaluation with dedicated alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale today.