Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

When a party seeks to modify his/her alimony obligation or payments, the party can ask the court to retroactively apply any modification so that he or she receives a credit for the alimony amount that should have been paid during the retroactive period. This period is usually limited to the date a party filed a petition for modification. If the court finds alimony should be reduced or increased, it can order that such reduction or increase apply back to the date the petition was filed. If alimony was reduced by $100 per month, for example, and the order was entered 12 months after the petition for modification was filed, the payor might be entitled to a $1,200 credit for over payment of alimony.

Retroactive modification, however, is not mandatory and is within the court’s discretion. This is illustrated in the case Millan v. Millan, 241 So.3d 913 (Fla. 2d DCA 2018) in which the former wife appealed a trial court’s decision to grant the former husband’s petition for modification of alimony retroactively. The former wife suffered a stroke during the parties’ marriage which left her permanently impaired and unable to work. Although the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision to reduce the alimony based on the former husband’s request for modification, the appellate court disagreed with the trial court’s decision to do so retroactively.

In reversing the trial court’s order on retroactive modification, the appellate court held, “n light of the former wife's severely diminished financial capability—which is exacerbated by the ordered reduction in her ongoing alimony income—the circuit court abused its discretion by giving retroactive effect to the alimony modification so as to charge her with an obligation resulting from past overpayments by the former husband.”

If you need an increase or reduction in alimony, contact a Miami divorce attorney to learn whether or not you qualify for one. A consultation will help you understand and prepare for your case.