RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
“Prospective clients may not obtain the same or similar results.”
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Modifying Alimony based upon a Change in Circumstances

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Modifying Alimony based upon a Change in Circumstances

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The death of either party, as well as the receiving spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation with another involving a supportive relationship are all specific examples set forth under Florida law which can allow for the modification or termination of spousal support. Other grounds fall under a ‘catch-all’ category, which allows for support to be increased, reduced, or terminated based upon a change in circumstances. See, Fl. Stat. 61.08. However, the statute does not set forth specific examples of changed circumstances that apply universally to all. This is because there are a countless number of ways in which such a change can occur.

Loss of employment, changing jobs, retirement, illness, disability, financial gain or loss through inheritance or investment, incarceration, and change in child custody, are just a few examples of ‘change,’ as the word is commonly used. The common use of the word ‘change’ is just one part, though. The change must be considered in the legal context, while taking into consideration the intent of lawmakers in allowing for modification or termination of alimony based upon these grounds. Consequently, a particular change in one case may warrant modification or termination of support, while in another, the same or similar change may not.

Given the foregoing, your next question may be, ‘So what exactly constitutes changed circumstances for purposes of modifying or terminating support based upon these grounds?’ Every situation is different. That is why it is important that you obtain the best legal counsel possible in evaluating your particular situation.

First and foremost, the change must be substantial, as provided by statute. Similar to the term ‘change,’ the term ‘substantial’ is a highly subjective. In the legal context, however, evaluating whether a change is substantial enough to warrant a change in support requires a far more objective approach. Prior case law provides guidance in interpreting what ‘substantial change’ means for purposes of modifying or terminating spousal support. A substantial change is one that is sufficient, material, permanent, involuntary, and that was not contemplated (unanticipated) at the time support was established.

Generally speaking, altering support requires that the requesting party prove each of the foregoing factors of substantial change. As stated earlier, it is necessary to consider terminology as it is used in the legal context, while also keeping in mind that often time these factors can interact with one another. In addition, it is important to know that not every case requires every factor be proven. For example, support can be modified in cases where the change was voluntary, so long as the change was reasonable, and not for the purpose of seeking a modification.

Whether you have experienced a substantial change ultimately depends on all attendant circumstances. The variations are endless—and while you may be seeking a full list of specific examples of change that the court will deem substantial enough to warrant modifying support—the change(s) that occurred must be evaluated based upon the individual circumstances of each party, in order to determine its potential impact on the right to receive or obligation to pay spousal support. At its most simplistic level, assessing a change in circumstances requires the same need-of-support versus ability-to-pay analysis used in establishing an initial award for support.

Whether you intend to pursue an increase, reduction, or termination or alimony on your own (i.e. pro se) or wish to secure full representation, knowing whether a ‘substantial change in circumstances’ exists, given your particular scenario, is important, and can save you time, money and stress. Consulting with an experienced alimony attorney will provide you with an understanding of your legal rights to alter support, as well as the consequences of requesting a change based upon improper grounds (i.e. a change against your interests; being required to pay the opposing party’s attorney’s fees and costs; provoking the other party to initiate proceedings on some other unresolved issue).

The Gainesville Alimony Attorneys of Alba & Yochim P.A. encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have regarding spousal support. Let our client-focused results-driven attorneys go to work for you.

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