Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

When parties agree to alimony terms in Florida, those terms supersede the Florida Statutes as it relates to payment of spousal support. In the case Inman v. Inman, 2D19-482 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018), a stipulated divorce decree was originally entered which stated the former husband would pay $800 per month to the former wife until the former wife’s death. The former husband sought termination of his alimony obligation, or in the alternative, modification.

As to the former husband’s request for termination, the trial court denied the same, and the appellate court agreed with this decision. The appellate court held, “If a marital settlement agreement provides for the continuing payment of alimony despite the remarriage of the recipient, then its terms will control over those in section 61.08(8) [of the Florida Statutes].” Since the parties’ agreement specifically stated, “Said payments shall commence immediately and continue in effect each month thereafter for the remainder of Plaintiff's life,” this did not allow for termination until the former wife’s death.

Next, turning to the former husband’s request for modification, the appellate court found the trial court incorrectly applied a higher standard on the former husband for modification than allowed by law. The trial court stated, “However, because Former Husband's alimony obligation was set by a voluntary agreement of the parties, the Former Husband's burden is exceptionally heavy.” The appellate court reversed, holding the standard is the same, whether the alimony is set by agreement or by court order. Specifically, the appellate court held, “These findings reflect that the trial court imposed a heavier burden of proof on the Former Husband because the alimony provision was set forth in a stipulated divorce decree. Although the court may have still denied the Former Husband's request for modification had it applied the proper standard of proof, we cannot be certain. For this reason, we reverse and remand for reconsideration of the Former Husband's request for modification under section 61.14(1)(a) using the proper burden of proof.”

Modification of alimony usually requires extensive discovery which a Florida family law attorney is best-suited to help with. Schedule a consultation with one so that you can review what evidence is needed to prove your side of your Florida alimony modification case.