Non-Modifiable Divorce Laws in Florida

By Mary Jane Freeman

When couples divorce in Florida, they must resolve all marital issues before they can move on and start life anew. This includes deciding important matters like property division, alimony, child support and custody. While it is true that certain orders in the divorce decree are modifiable after divorce, such as child support and custody, others are not. Divorcing spouses must ensure that any issues important to them are thoroughly discussed during the divorce process and the final terms are satisfactory based on their long-term goals.

Property Distribution

Before a court can divide property between divorcing spouses, it must first determine whether the property is eligible for division. This is because only marital property may be divided in divorces. In Florida, most assets and debts acquired during the marriage, whether by one or both spouses, are considered marital property and part of the marital estate. On the other hand, property one spouse acquired before the marriage or during the marriage by inheritance or gift is the separate property of that spouse and not generally divisible. As an equitable distribution state, Florida divides the marital estate in a manner that is fair and just, though not necessarily equal. To make this decision, the court evaluates several factors, such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse's financial circumstances and each party's contributions to the marriage. Once the court makes its distribution order, it cannot be modified except under the rare circumstance of fraud, where a spouse hid assets or intentionally undervalued property.

Alimony

In Florida, alimony -- or spousal support -- will only be awarded if there is a need and ability to pay, and it may come in different forms. Bridge-the-Gap alimony is money awarded to help a spouse transition from married to single life and cannot be modified once awarded. For example, a spouse may be awarded Bridge-the-Gap alimony to use for a new place to live or to buy a car. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to help a spouse become self-supporting, usually through education or job training. Permanent alimony is typically awarded in cases of long-term marriages -- more than 17 years -- and lasts until the recipient spouse remarries or either spouse dies. Durational alimony is money provided to a needy spouse for a limited period of time, not to exceed the length of the marriage. The court may order alimony to be paid in periodic payments, in a lump sum, or both.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Misconduct

Florida courts can look at spousal misconduct when dividing property or awarding alimony. For example, if one spouse lavished his mistress with money and gifts or used marital funds to support a gambling or drug habit, depleting the spouses' financial resources, the court may award more property or alimony to the innocent spouse to compensate for the loss. The court may also award the innocent spouse more property if the other spouse attempted to hide assets, as in the case of one spouse secretly transferring money and property to a third party to hide until the divorce is over.

What Is Modifiable?

Once the divorce decree is issued, only certain terms of the divorce may be modified and usually upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. For example, child custody and support orders in Florida are always modifiable. For custody orders, a substantial change may be the occurrence of domestic violence or the child's planned relocation. For child support orders, the noncustodial parent's loss of income due to unemployment or having additional children to support may constitutes grounds for modification. With respect to alimony, a substantial change may be the recipient spouse's remarriage or the paying spouse's retirement and resulting decreased income. To modify an award of alimony, not only must there be a substantial change in circumstances, the change must also be permanent and unlikely to change.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How Long Do You Have to Be Married to Receive Spousal Support?

References

Related articles

How to Determine Alimony in SC

To prepare for a divorce, it is important for both parties to have an understanding of the factors a court will consider in determining whether to award alimony and the types and amounts to request. In South Carolina, the length of the marriage, the existence of any marital misconduct, the parties' earning capacity, and the physical and mental health of both parties will be considered in determining the length, type and amount of an order for alimony.

Does a Spouse Receive Alimony When Divorced in Ohio?

Spouses can receive alimony during or after a divorce in Ohio, but it’s not an automatic right. Judges make alimony decisions on a case-by-case basis and after considering numerous factors. Section 3105.18 of the Ohio Revised Code lists these factors, but it doesn’t instruct a judge how to weigh them. Ultimately, it comes down to the opinion of the judge whether to award alimony and for how long.

Missouri Alimony Maintenance Laws

Alimony, called spousal maintenance in Missouri, is financial support provided by one spouse to another after a divorce or separation. The purpose is to provide for the receiving spouse's basic needs if she cannot support herself through her own income and assets. Maintenance payments are limited in duration and can be court ordered or agreed to between the spouses.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Divorce Law in New Hampshire for Alimony

Following a divorce, alimony may be awarded to help a struggling spouse transition to single life, with the hope that ...

How is Alimony Calculated in a New York Divorce?

Marriage is as much about money as it is about love. When two people depend on each other financially, especially over ...

Alimony Laws in Tennessee

Alimony is a monetary award paid to the financially weaker spouse after a divorce. Tennessee courts can award one of ...

Alimony Laws in Kansas

Alimony, also called spousal support, may be awarded during a divorce proceeding in Kansas. Alimony is paid by one ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED