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Modification of Alimony Due to Loss of Income During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Spousal Support Lawyers Serving the Miami Area

Whether you have been laid off, or you have had your hours reduced or been furloughed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may not have the income that you need to meet your alimony obligation. If you are currently required to make court-ordered alimony payments, you should bring a motion to modify the order. People who simply stop paying while the obligation is in effect may be ordered to pay retroactively once the pandemic is over, which can be financially devastating. In Florida, a modification of alimony may be requested if the financial circumstances of either ex-spouse change. If you need to pursue a motion for modification of alimony due to loss of income during the coronavirus outbreak, you should consult the Miami alimony lawyers at Sandy T. Fox, P.A.

Florida Law on Alimony and COVID-19

As part of a divorce settlement or order, a higher-earning spouse may need to send alimony payments to a lesser-earning or non-earning spouse. There are several types of alimony. Some are meant to help a lesser-earning spouse transition into financial independence, while others have long-term consequences. In Florida, you can ask for a modification of alimony due to loss of income during the coronavirus outbreak as long as alimony was awarded as part of your final settlement or divorce decree. For example, if you were terminated because your employer shut down permanently due to COVID-19, and you no longer have the income to make alimony payments, you may be able to petition for an alimony modification.

Under Florida Revised Statutes section 61.14, you will need to show that there has been an unanticipated, permanent, involuntary, and material change in circumstances that affects your ability to pay. Your involuntary loss of income during the coronavirus outbreak may qualify as a substantial change in circumstances. Voluntarily quitting your job or purposely seeking termination during the outbreak likely will not qualify.

Temporary Modification of Alimony for Loss of Income Due to COVID-19

A court may order a temporary modification of alimony due to loss of income during the coronavirus outbreak. A temporary modification is considered appropriate if you have suffered an income reduction, but you were not purposefully trying to avoid paying alimony, and you are acting in good faith to bring your income back to its earlier level. For example, if your employer has suspended operations during the COVID-19 outbreak because the work cannot be done remotely, but it expects that you will return to a full workload once the outbreak is under control, our attorneys can assist you in requesting a temporary change in your alimony obligation.

A court is authorized to suspend payments until the spouse who makes the payments can pay again, unless the inability to pay is due to an intentional refusal to work or another incapacity that was created willfully. When the change in circumstances is inadvertent, such as job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the alimony obligation likely will be reduced to conform to the ex-spouse’s capacity to pay.

Retroactive Application

A court can modify alimony by increasing or decreasing an alimony amount retroactive to the date of the filing of the action, giving due regard to changed circumstances or the parties’ financial abilities. Accordingly, even if your modification petition cannot be heard immediately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is wise to get a petition to modify on file as soon as possible.

Hire a Miami Attorney to Protect Your Interests

If you need to obtain a modification of alimony due to loss of income during the coronavirus outbreak, you should talk to seasoned family law attorney Sandy T. Fox about your situation. Mr. Fox is a Florida Bar Board Certified specialist in Marital and Family Law. He represents clients in Miami, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and elsewhere in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Call us at 800.596.0579 or 305.932.6542, or contact us through our online form.