6 Things You Need to Know About Alimony Modification in Sarasota, Florida
1. Florida has four types of alimony: Bridge the Gap; Rehabilitative; Durational; and Permanent.
2. Some awards of alimony in Sarasota divorce cases are virtually impossible to modify. For example, by statute, Bridge the Gap Alimony may not be modified as to “amount or duration.” In addition, a couple may agree to non-modifiable alimony as part of a Marital Settlement Agreement.
3. The dollar amount of Durational Alimony may be modified, but not the duration that the support is to be paid – except under “exceptional circumstances.”
4. The most common trigger for an alimony modification is a “substantial change in circumstances.” Cases interpreting Florida’s alimony statute, have usually expanded this definition to require “a permanent, unanticipated, substantial change in the financial circumstances of one or both parties.”
5. Alimony may also be reduced or terminated when the person receiving alimony is in a “supportive relationship.” The alimony modification statute provides a very detailed list of factors that add up to a “supportive relationship,” but the shorthand definition is whether the relationship is sufficiently like a marriage.
6. The earliest effective date for an alimony modification, is the date the Petition for Modification of Alimony is filed with court.
5 Ways Your Sarasota Divorce Lawyer Can Help You in an Alimony Modification
1. A good Sarasota family law lawyer can be a big help in your alimony modification case. First, before your case even begins, the attorney can review the type of alimony you are paying or receiving, and the current financial circumstances of you and your former spouse. This will enable your attorney to give you an opinion as to whether a modification case makes sense. Litigation can be expensive, and the results of litigation are never guaranteed. So it makes sense to carefully analyze the case at the start: some cases have virtually no chance of succeeding while other cases have a much stronger set of facts.
2. Your attorney will get your case started quickly and correctly. The earliest date that alimony can be modified is the day the Petition for Modification of Alimony is filed with the court. So, if there is a need for an alimony modification, time is of the essence.
3. Your attorney will help you navigate through the “discovery process.” “Discovery,” is the process when financially information is exchanged between the parties. Once a lawsuit has started either side can demand disclosure of the other party’s finances. Your attorney can help you through the process of producing discovery on your part and demanding discovery from the other side.
4. Your attorney will arrange for any experts that may be required. Alimony modifications, require a review of both parties’ incomes. In some cases a party may be “sandbagging” in terms of his or her employment and income. (Improperly unemployed or underemployed). When this happens an employment expert may be required to demonstrate the proper income to impute.
5. Finally, your attorney can hep you settle the case or take your case through trial. Trials are very expensive, so having an attorney help you understand your options and how settle the case is extremely important. However, in some cases it is impossible to reach an agreement with your former spouse. When that happens, it is important that you have an attorney who knows the rules of evidence, and how to present your case in the best light to the judge.
Changes to Florida’s Alimony Modification Statute
I have provided a link to Florida’s current alimony, and alimony modification statutes:
Alimony: Section 61.08, Florida Statutes
Alimony Modification: Section 61.14, Florida Statutes
In recent years the Florida legislature has made several attempts to change alimony law in Florida. One recent change was approved by both houses, but vetoed by the governor. There are now pending bills in both houses of the Florida legislature that would completely revamp Florida’s current alimony and alimony modification laws. It appears these changes are likely to be passed and signed by the governor. However, there are no guarantees until the bill is made a law. I am providing a link to the Florida Senate’s bill tracking on this subject: