Many former spouses receiving permanent alimony and many spouses paying permanent periodic alimony are interested in modifying their permanent alimony award. The standard bearer for modifying permanent alimony in Florida was established in the cornerstone Florida Supreme Court case of Pimm v. Pimm, 601 So. 2d 534, 536 (Fla. 1992). In Pimm, the Court provided the following burden on the party seeking to modify alimony: “the moving party must show that: (1) there was a substantial change in circumstances; (2) the change was not contemplated at the time of the final judgment of dissolution; and (3) the change is sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature.” Call the Jacobs Law Firm divorce attorney Orlando, divorce attorney Clermont Florida at 407-335-8113 when you need to know your rights and responsibilities as pertains to alimony.
The Case Law on Modifying Permanent Alimony in Florida
Recently, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Davis v. Maloch, No. 5D18-2490 (Fla. 5 DCA 2019) took up the issue of modifying permanent alimony in Florida. In its decision the Davis Court references Florida Statute 61.14, which provides broad discretion to the family law circuit courts to enter an order modifying alimony as equity (legalese for fairness) requires. Building on this equity principle, the Court reasserts that when considering an alimony modification, the judge must look at all relevant factors in Florida Statute 61.08. Albu v. Albu, 150 So. 3d 1226, 1228 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014). When considering the complexity of these legal guidelines, it is no wonder may litigants seek to hire the best divorce attorney Orlando, divorce attorney Clermont Florida to ensure their financial positions are maintained or improved.
When to Modify Permanent Alimony
Keep in mind that family law courts are often hesitant to engage in modifying permanent alimony in Florida when the parties initially agreed on a specific award of alimony, and now at some future time have decided their initial agreement should be abrogated. The courts consider that factors such as voluntary underemployment or unemployment, jealousy over remarriage, and bitterness may play unfortunate roles in a party’s decision to petition for a modification of alimony. Again, to reiterate, a party must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances (this is nebulous but nonetheless a high standard); that the change was not contemplated at the time of Final Judgment of Dissolution (retirement is generally contemplated at a certain time absent disability or winning the Florida Lottery), and that the change is sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature (involuntariness is challenging to prove).