In many marriages, both spouses are capable earners, but one spouse nonetheless quits his or her job, perhaps to take a lead role in raising children. Both spouses and their kids (if any) accustom themselves to a shared lifestyle. Should it become necessary to legally terminate the marriage through a divorce, Florida law may require one spouse to provide regular (or perhaps lump-sum) payments to the other spouse to allow both spouses, and any of their kids, to maintain comparable lifestyles. These payments are known as spousal support (also known as alimony) and child support. The court determines these payments based on the current earning situation of each spouse and the needs of applicable children. But what happens if the current situation changes? For example, what happens if one ex-spouse becomes unemployed, or a child permanently assigned to one parent contracts a severe and costly disease? In Florida, either ex-spouse can petition the court for a change in future support payments to reflect a permanent change in circumstances. Because the court only reduces support payments from the day the petition is filed, not from the day the circumstances changed, it is necessary for the ex-spouse to contact an experienced family law attorney, like Frank P. Remsen, for a low cost initial consultation as soon as practical.
James Jarrard is a good example of a Floridian ex-husband who was able to petition the court for a reduction in spousal support after he lost his high-paying job. When he divorced his wife, Jackie, he was making $150,000 per year with a job in Louisiana, while Jackie was only making $10,000 per year. To allow James and Jackie to maintain comparable lifestyles following the divorce, the court ordered James to pay $4200 each month in spousal support. Seven years later, James lost his job. After spending several months unemployed, he got a commission-based job that payed him an average of less than $6000 per month. This made it very difficult for him to pay Jackie $4200 every month, so he petitioned the court to reduce the spousal support payments. Jackie convinced the trial court to deny James’ petition, citing a month in which James made $15,466 with his commission-based job to argue that James’ salary decrease was not necessarily permanent. James appealed the case to Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals. The DCA ruled in James’ favor because the $90,730 he made in the eighteen months of his commission-based job clearly reflected a decrease in income from his $150,000 per year Louisiana job.
There are some conditions to request a support payment adjustment. For example, the ex-spouse must not have voluntarily caused the change in conditions, such as loss of job, so if James had quit his $150,000 per year Louisiana job merely because he found it boring, he would have likely lost his case. If you think that you may be eligible for a support payment adjustment, you should to contact an experienced family law attorney, such as Frank P. Remsen, for a low cost initial consultation.