Modification of Alimony Based Upon a Party’s Retirement

A modification of alimony based upon a party’s retirement may be granted when the trial court finds that the party’s retirement is reasonable. In determining whether a party’s retirement is reasonable, a Court will look at the parties’ age, health, and motivation for retiring. In determining whether a reduction in alimony based upon a party’s retirement will be permitted, the trial court will also examine the type of work that the paying party performs and the age at which others in that line of work customarily retire.

In a recently decided case captioned Dogoda v. Dogoda, the husband appealed an order denying his petition to modify his alimony obligation. The parties married in 1991. The husband filed for divorce in 2013. The parties entered into a marital settlement agreement that resolved all of their issues. The agreement was executed in September of 2014, and was not incorporated into a Final Judgment of Dissolution until December of 2014. Due to his poor performance in physical fitness drills that took place after September of 2014, the Husband decided to retire in January of 2015. The Husband then petitioned for a modification of his alimony obligation. The lower court held that the Husband’s retirement was contemplated prior to the final judgment being entered. The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision.

The Florida Court of Appeals held that a modification of alimony may be granted in Florida when the parties enter into a marital settlement agreement pertaining to the payment of alimony and the financial ability of either of the parties changes. The petitioner must show that there was a substantial change of circumstances, that the change was not contemplated at the time of the final judgment, and that change is material, permanent, sufficient and involuntary. A party’s retirement may warrant a modification of alimony payments. However, a modification of alimony cannot be based on factors known to the parties when the final judgment was entered. In cases that involve marital settlement agreements, the effective date of the marital settlement agreement establishes the date to which a trial court should look in determining whether a substantial change in circumstances was contemplated by the parties. In this case, the Florida Court of Appeal found that the former husband’s retirement was not contemplated at the time that the marital settlement was entered into and reversed the trial court’s order denying the Former Husband’s supplemental petition for modification of alimony. The case was then remanded to the trial court.

To speak with a modification of alimony attorney in Wellington, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.