Enforcement and Modification of support, Maintenance, or Alimony Agreements or Orders
Sometimes the most difficult aspects of a divorce don’t occur until after the divorce is finalized. If it’s been difficult getting your former spouse to follow through on his or her obligations as determined by your divorce agreement, there are things you can do to ensure the agreement is enforced.
In addition to enforcing any alimony or support agreement, it’s also possible to modify the agreement as things change. Most divorce agreements can be modified unless they were originally deemed non-modifiable, but there are certain conditions that must be met before a modifiable agreement can be changed.
How do you know if your agreement should be modified and what can you do if it needs further backing from the court to be enforced?
Can Alimony, Support, and Maintenance Be Modified in Florida?
According to section 61.14 of the Florida Statutes, alimony awarded in an original divorce decree can be modified or terminated if there is a change in circumstances that affect the paying spouse’s ability to pay. This applies to both increases and decreases in income.
In cases where there was originally no alimony awarded, it cannot be requested at a later date, even if there is a significant change in either of the spouse’s income. Any divorce case closed without alimony can never produce alimony payments. Your attorney can help you prevent this from occurring by creating an arrangement known as “nominal alimony.”
Nominal alimony keeps the option open to modifying an award in the future by creating a temporary arrangement at the time of divorce. For instance, one spouse might request $1 in support per month with the intention of modifying the plan in the future.
What are Reasons Alimony Might Be Modified?
Alimony awards are modified when there is a “substantial change in circumstances,” that is permanent, involuntary, and material. This might include:
- Health issues
- Long-term unemployment
- Large raise
- Substantial inheritance
- Lottery winnings
- Availability of medical insurance
- Payer’s long-term involuntary decreased ability to pay
- Voluntary changes in circumstances that are smart and well thought out decisions
- Recipient remarries or enters into a “supportive relationship,” also known as co-habitation
- Proof of fraud by the recipient
The law does its best to protect against modifications that are requested because of spite or ill-intention. For instance, if the recipient of alimony decides to quit his or her job just to request a boost in alimony, it’s unlikely the court will award a modification.
How is Alimony Modified?
The process of modifying alimony is similar to the original process in which alimony was determined in the divorce. This means it can be complicated and is filled with legal procedures and potentially contentious negotiations.
Anyone interested in modifying an award is encouraged to do so with the support of an attorney – just as he or she did during the original divorce. Working with an attorney improves the odds you’ll be treated fairly and that your financial well-being will be protected.
The same is true if you are having a difficult time with enforcement of your alimony award. An experienced attorney can help you determine how to proceed and will ensure the process of collecting the support you are owed occurs within the letter of the law.
Modifying Alimony and Support with the Guidance of an Attorney
If you need assistance with support enforcement or you’re hoping to modify an alimony award, our team of attorneys, our paralegal(s) and our legal assistant(s) can help.
Our primary legal focus is Florida Family Law, but Wayne F. Jentis, Esq. is an active member of both the New Jersey and New York Bars. He has assisted many clients with alimony and support enforcement issues and is familiar with laws regarding divorce in all three states.
Our East Coast Law, P.A. attorneys are uniquely qualified to handle a variety of issues and to provide support for clients who want to work with a single attorney who knows laws in all three jurisdictions.
If you are dealing with a situation that involves alimony or support related to your divorce, Wayne F. Jentis, Esq. and Victoria A. Kroger, Esq. at East Coast Law, P.A. can help. We have offices headquartered in Melbourne, Florida (321) 984-4100, with satellite offices and phone numbers in Princeton, New Jersey (609) 921-0033, and New York, New York (212) 729-9987.
For more information or to learn how you can move forward with your legal matter, please contact us at one of the numbers on our home page to schedule a consultation. We provide in depth consultations for a nominal fee that can help you understand your legal rights and to provide you with various options you may have to address your concerns.