In a modification of alimony case, the substantial change of circumstances necessary to modify alimony must bear on either the payee spouse's need for alimony or the payor spouse's ability to pay it. In Wood v. Blunck, the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "To justify a modification of alimony, the party seeking modification must establish (1) a substantial change of circumstances; (2) that the change was not contemplated at the time of the final judgment of dissolution; and (3) that the change is sufficient, material, permanent, and involuntary. Pimm v. Pimm, 601 So. 2d 534,5 36 (Fla. 1992). The substantial change of circumstances necessary to modify an alimony award must bear on either the payee spouse's need for alimony or the payor spouse's ability to pay it. See Galligher v. Galligher, 527 So. 2d 858,860 (Fla. 1988); §61,14(l),Fla. Stat. (2009). For example, when the payee spouse's need decreases significantly, alimony should ordinarily be modified downward even if the payor spouse has ample ability to pay the original amount. See Antepenko v. Antepenko, 824 So. 2d 214,215 (Fla. 2d DCA 2002), However, "[t]he fact that the income of the spouse receiving alimony has increased, will not necessarily justify modification of the award." Galligher, 527 So, 2d at 860. A variety of factors must be considered. See id. The court's ultimate decision is reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard. Leonard v. Leonard, 971 So. 2d 263,266 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008).
Although courts have discretion in determining the amount of alimony to award, the comparison of a party's expenses and income with the amount of alimony is an important consideration...Here, the improvement in the former wife's financial position appears to be a substantial change of circumstances...The former wife's pre-alimony income has increased by sixty-three percent. The record does not indicate what her expenses were at the time of the final judgment. It does, however, indicate that the $1,700 award exceeds the former wife's current pre-alimony deficit by over $1,000. Although the court explained that the amount of the former wife's current spending reflects a lifestyle below the standard established during the marriage, the court did not make findings to indicate what amount of spending would be commensurate with that lifestyle or what factors, if any, offset the substantial increase in the former wife's earnings.
To speak with a divorce attorney in North Palm Beach, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.