If you have been making the same alimony payment for years, there is a chance you are ready to move on with your life — and a chance your former spouse is ready, financially, for you to end spousal support.
But the modification or termination of alimony is a difficult process, particularly when you and your former spouse are not on good terms. To get started, follow these steps:
Understand the Different Types of Alimony
There are several different types of alimony. Some are designed to be short-term, giving one spouse time to finish an education, get a promotion, or start a new career. Others are more permanent.
The most common form of permanent alimony is “periodic.” It involves a weekly, monthly, or semi-regular payment that ensures a former spouse remains self-sufficient. Typically, this payment is given by a former husband to a former wife — but it can go either way.
There are a multitude of factors that go into setting alimony, including the standard of living maintained during the marriage, the financial resources available to each spouse, the earning potential of each spouse, and the amount of childcare each spouse was responsible for during the marriage. The ages of each spouse and the status of their health may be factors as well.
If these factors have significantly changed, it may be time to reassess your alimony obligation.
Determine Your Eligibility for Ending or Modifying Alimony Payments
You may be able to argue that your alimony should be reduced or ended if:
- You find yourself suddenly and involuntarily unemployed and are unable to pay
- You find yourself seriously ill or disabled and are unable to work full-time
- Your former spouse is living with someone as a couple and is receiving financial assistance
- Your former spouse won the lottery
- Your former spouse received a substantial inheritance
- You have retired
- Your former spouse committed fraud in obtaining alimony
- Your former spouse received a large raise
If your former spouse remarries, your alimony payments should stop immediately — unless you have agreed to a lump-sum payment. In these situations, you will likely be required to pay even if your former spouse dies.
It is important to note that, even if your former spouse remarries, you should not cease payment until you have confirmed the marriage is legally binding.
Other popular, but far less successful, methods used to attempt modification of alimony include:
- Declaring bankruptcy
- The voluntary or deliberate loss of your job
- An increase in your cost of living
- An award of lump sum alimony
- Expenses of a second marriage
- A moderate showing of improvement of your former spouse’s income
None of these methods are likely to end in modification. If you are not sure whether your specific circumstances make you eligible, contact an experienced divorce attorney.
Follow the Correct Process
If you stop paying alimony against a court order, you could face legal penalties. Instead, you must follow the proper procedure. In Florida, that process is similar to your initial divorce.
First, you must serve a petition on your former spouse. Then you must comply with financial disclosure requirements. The next step is mediation; then a final trial if no agreement or settlement can be reached behind closed doors.
This process can be just as long and frustrating as your first divorce proceedings, but it can have a significant impact on your financial bottom line if the modification is awarded.
Contact an Experienced West Palm Beach Family Law Attorney for Representation
The modification or elimination of alimony payments in Florida can be complex — especially without professional assistance. For advice and representation, contact The Law Office of Eric C. Cheshire P.A. in West Palm Beach. To schedule an appointment, call 561-295-3693.