Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

When parties enter a marital settlement agreement or a final judgment is entered in a Florida divorce, the court will enforce the express terms of the agreement or order. So it is important that terms in the agreement or order are unambiguous and not open to different interpretations. Otherwise, the parties could find themselves embroiled in expensive and lengthy post-judgment litigation.

In McDaniels v. McDaniels, 1D18-3850 (Fla. 1st DCA July 23, 2019), the former husband sought to modify his alimony obligation but learned the court will enforce unambiguous terms of an order. The parties final judgment of divorce stated the alimony was non-modifiable for a period of time unless the former husband became permanently disabled as diagnosed by a doctor or as determined by the Social Security Administration.

The former husband subsequently filed a petition to modify his alimony, claiming he was permanently disabled. The former wife also filed a motion for contempt because the former husband had not been meeting his alimony obligation. After a hearing, the court denied the former husband’s petition for modification and granted the former wife’s motion for contempt. The former husband appealed both decisions.

In upholding the trial court’s decision and denying the former husband’s appeal, the appellate court held, “As the trial court found, none of the medical records upon which Appellant relied stated that he was permanently disabled. Nor did Appellant file for social security disability as a result of his conditions. Given such, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the petition to modify.” The appellate court further held the former husband failed to preserve his argument for appeal as to the motion for contempt.

When you are seeking to modify your alimony payments either as a recipient or as a payor, it is important to know the merits of your case before you file your petition. Contact a Miami divorce attorney for a consultation to understand your best options moving forward.