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Can an alimony order be modified?

Issues regarding spousal support can often come up long after the divorce papers are signed. Readers of this blog who are either receiving or paying spousal support may have questions regarding whether such awards can be changed in the future. According to Florida law, an existing order for alimony can be modified in some circumstances. Generally speaking, if there is a change in circumstances in either of the parties' financial abilities for better or for worse, either party can file a petition to modify an existing alimony order.

A party that is ordered by court to make alimony payments may in some circumstances be able to petition the court to have the payments reduced or terminated altogether. In general, the spouse seeking to reduce or terminate alimony payments must prove to the satisfaction of the court that, since the alimony award was made or the couple divorced, a supportive relationship has existed between the recipient of the alimony payments and another person that the recipient happens to reside or cohabitate with.

It must be noted that the burden of proof lies wholly on the party that is requesting the reduction or termination of the alimony. It must be shown by a preponderance of evidence that the aforementioned supportive relationship exists.

There are many factors that a court may rely on to determine the nature of any alleged supportive relationship that may exist with persons that are not related by blood. For example, the court may consider the amount of time that the alimony recipient has resided with that other person in a permanent abode or the extent to which they have pooled their personal assets or income or otherwise have exhibited some form of financial interdependence or comingling of assets.

The court may also take into account whether the recipient and the other person have jointly contributed to the purchase of any real estate or personal property and even whether the recipient and the other person have provided mutual support to the children of one another regardless of any legal obligation to do so. A Florida divorce attorney may be able to provide readers with legal advice regarding the modification of an alimony award, which this post does not provide.

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