Unknowingly for most Floridian divorce couples, they have the notion that after the finalization of divorce ruling there is nothing more to do, say or change with arrangements, which applies to the future situation. Under the Florida divorce decree, there are circumstantial events or situations that a need for modification can still be requested and a big chance of justified approval.
Under Section 61.14 of the Florida Statutes, “ An alimony, as awarded in the original divorce decree, may be terminated or modified when an unexpected, involuntary, and substantial change in circumstances or situation occurs affecting the former spouse’s ability to pay, or the other former spouse’s need for alimony. “ Such modification request requires anybody to show a substantial change in circumstances.
Types of Alimony
First and foremost, there are two types of alimony to qualify for modification requests:
- 1. Modifiable Alimony – can be modified and generally applies to all alimony
- 2. Unmodifiable Alimony ( Bridge-the-gap Alimony)
- cannot be modified
- both couples agreed in writing- no court will review the alimony
Circumstances or Events Qualifying Modification (Modifiable Alimony)
There are several examples of substantial changes which may include, but are not limited to the following:
- change of income/payment ability
- debilitating injury
- dependent’s status changed
- employment change /long-term unemployment
- economic bankruptcy
- health-related issues (serious illness)
- health insurance/ healthcare costs increase
- lottery winnings
- payor retirement
- payee fraud (alimony)
- payor decreased ability to pay
- remarriage (payor) or cohabitation of a spouse (alimony)
- substantial inheritance
However, there are several situations and factors that will not justify a modification of Florida alimony:
- getting fired purposely
- lump sum alimony award/bridge-the-gap alimony award
- marital settlement agreements (waiving the right to modify alimony)
- payee’s economic situation moderately improves
- quitting a job voluntarily
- second marriage expenses
Notably, the judge has the discretion to:
- modify an order of maintenance, support, or alimony retroactively to the date of the original filing of the action, or supplemental action for modification.
- may terminate or reduce alimony if properly requested by Supplemental Petition to Modify Alimony, and granted in a Final Order for Modification.
In addition, if failure to pay the alimony sanctions will be imposed such as:
- ordered to pay former spouse’s attorney’s fees
- suspension of driver’s license
- jail time
Steps in Getting a Post-Divorce Modification
Step 1 Agreeing to new terms and conditions, which takes some time and negotiation
Step 2 If agreed, it will be filed for modification
Step 3 If the other party does not agree, your attorney will file a modification request
No Mutual Agreement
Step 1 The petitioning party will have the other side served while waiting for a response (20days)
Step 2 Period of discovery – a mediation to settle the matter
Step 3 Court hearing
Step 4 Presentation of evidence and judge decides
Increase Chance for Modification Requests
Considering the courts will not grant every modification request, however, there is a greater chance of request by:
- showing that you completely held up your end of the bargain since its approval including payments, and agreements like custody or visitation.
- For circumstances that have not materially changed and having a dispute with the ex-spouse – the judge will not approve a modification request.
- If not certain if qualified for modification request or the right steps taken – better hire a qualified family law attorney.
Alimony and Taxes
When it comes to taxes or tax deductions for alimony payments, it is only applicable:
- If the divorce is finalized before December 31, 2018
The paying spouse avails the tax-deductible benefits and is responsible to report the income to the supported spouse.
- If the divorce is finalized on or after January 1, 2019
Not qualified to avail the tax deduction for alimony payments and the supported spouse does not need to report the money income (tax purposes)
Contact Fort Myers' Most Trusted Divorce Law Attorney
If you need legal services like a post-divorce alimony modification request, trust only the most trusted divorce law attorney in Fort Myers, Florida- Att. Mellany Marquez Kelly.
Since 2013, Mellany Marquez-Kelly has been providing various legal services including divorce, alimony, and post-divorce alimony modification request to clients. She has a thorough understanding of Florida divorce law that helped many residents in the Ft. Myers, Cape Coral area, and receive favorable outcomes in the resolution of their Family Law matters.
- Post-Divorce Modification Requests