Modifying Florida Alimony

Now that Senate Bill 718 on alimony reform has been vetoed by Florida Governor Rick Scott, many Tampa Bay residents are wondering whether there is any way to modify or terminate their alimony obligations.  The answer, in many cases, may be yes.

Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes states that most types of alimony may be modified or terminated when there has been a substantial change in circumstances that affects the receiving spouse’s need for alimony or the paying spouse’s ability to pay. Case law tells us that a “substantial change in circumstances” means a change that was unanticipated at the time the alimony was ordered by the Court, and a change that is permanent, involuntary, and material. Examples of substantial changes in circumstance that may justify upward or downward modification include health issues, long-term unemployment, a big raise, or a large inheritance.

Even if a change in circumstances is voluntary, a modification or reduction of alimony may be granted if the change is a smart and well thought out decision. For example, imagine a scenario where a Husband was an umbrellas salesman at the time he was ordered to pay permanent alimony, but, because of changes in the weather pattern, he has chosen to switch careers and take a position as a salesman of dust busters. Though this position pays much less than the person received at the height of the rainy climate, it is now much more stable with the possibility of long-term advancement. If the now former husband can show that this voluntary reduction in income was prudent, he may still be able to get his alimony obligation reduced or terminated.

Additionally, a judge may reduce or terminate an award of alimony upon finding that the receiving spouse is now in a supportive relationship. Section 61.14(1)(b)(2), Florida Statutes, provides guidelines to determine whether such a relationship exists.

You should understand that there are situations where alimony is not modifiable or able to be terminated.  Lump sum alimony is non-modifiable, as are many awards of bridge-the-gap alimony.  Additionally, some marital settlement agreements explicitly waive the right to modify alimony.

One last point: A judge will only reduce or terminate alimony if you properly ask for the modification. If you simply stop paying alimony, you may face sanctions, such as paying your former spouse’s attorney’s fees, having your driver’s license suspended, or possibly even spending some time in jail. Consult with a Florida family law attorney to see whether alimony in your case may be modified.

If you are seeking to modify your alimony obligation, and you wish to set up a consultation with a Florida alimony attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., by calling us at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our contact form.

About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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One Response to Modifying Florida Alimony

  1. Andy Jacinto says:

    Too bad, Gov. Scott vetoed this very promising legal measure.

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