Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

When you can no longer afford your alimony obligation, or on the other side if you need more alimony than was originally awarded due to a change in circumstances, you may have the option of filing a petition for modification of alimony in Florida. Modification can be retroactive to the date you filed your petition, meaning it will go into effect as of the date you filed your petition even if an order on the petition is entered several months later.

In the case Nuttle v. Nuttle, 4D18-391 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), the former husband sought modification of his alimony obligation based on the fact that he had been laid off as a staff photographer. He originally filed a petition for modification on one date and then later filed an amended petition for modification. After a hearing, the court granted the former husband’s petition for modification, but only retroactive to the date the amended petition was filed rather than the original petition.

On appeal, the court reversed this ruling, holding it was error for the trial court to deny the former husband’s request for retroactive application to the date of his original petition. The court held, “[T]he husband's need for a reduction in his alimony existed at the time of the filing of the original petition for modification. Additionally, the trial court did not state any reason for rejecting the husband's request for retroactively modifying alimony to the date of the husband's loss of employment. Nor does the record indicate any basis for rejecting the request. Both the original petition and the amended petition cited the husband's job loss as the basis for modification. In light of the presumption of retroactivity, the trial court's reduction of alimony, and the lack of record support for the trial court's rejection of the request for retroactivity to the date of the original petition for modification, we reverse the final judgment of modification and remand for the trial court to reduce the husband's alimony obligation retroactive to the date the husband was terminated from his employment.”

Thus it is important that when circumstances change regarding your ability to pay alimony or your need for it, that you file your petition sooner than later so that you can maximize your retroactive relief. To determine if your case qualifies for modification of alimony, you should consult with a Miami divorce attorney.