In a modification of alimony proceeding, a temporary reduction or modification of alimony can be awarded where a party is temporarily unemployed. In Hedstrom v. Hedstrom, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated:
“However, a temporary…[modification of alimony]…is appropriate where the court determines that the payor has suffered a reduction in income through no fault of his own and is acting in good faith to return his income to its previous level. Mclntosh v. Mclntosh, 915 So. 2d 742, 743 (Fla. 5th DCA 2005) (citing Dervishi v. Dervishi, 905 So. 2d 932 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005)). We have held that if the party cannot prove a permanent change in circumstances-for example, where he is unemployed but seeking new employment-that party is entitled to a suspension of his payment obligations during the period of unemployment. See Bennett v. Dep ‘t of Revenue, 664 So. 2d 33, 34-35 (Fla. 5th DCA 1995). Alternatively, rather than suspending the payment obligations entirely, the court can reduce them. See Hoffmeyer v. Hoffmeyer, 802 So. 2d 1212, 1213 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002) (“The trial court’s ruling to reduce [the] alimony from $1700 to $500 provides an appropriate balance by meeting both parties’ basic financial needs while maintaining an incentive for [the payor] to seek other employment.”). When calculating arrearage during this temporary period of reduced income, a payor’s complete inability to pay requires cessation of arrearage accrual, not mere abatement of payment.Davis v. Davis, 528 So. 2d 34, 35 (Fla. 5th DCA 1988). As we explained in Davis, “[to] cause [the payor] to go deeper and deeper and deeper in debt, as the months of his inability to pay [the alimony] continue, potentially puts him in a hole from which he could never be extricated, save a win at the lottery or other bonanza.” Id. Accordingly, ‘[w]hen an inability to pay support alimony arises the only proper thing to do is suspend payments until the ability is restored.’ Id.”
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