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.


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.

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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.

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Modified Judgment of Divorce in Michigan

When Michigan courts make decisions in a divorce case, they base those decisions on the facts known at the time of the divorce hearings. However, circumstances may change after the court issues its divorce decree, making the decree outdated, so Michigan law allows courts to modify certain aspects of a divorce decree, including child support, spousal support, child custody and parenting time.

Can a Non-Modifiable Alimony Agreement Be Modified in Ohio?

Most alimony awards in Ohio are non-modifiable unless they contain language that reserves the court's jurisdiction to do so. This is true whether you terminate your marriage by dissolution or divorce. Dissolution simply means you and your spouse have reached an agreement on marital terms, such as alimony, while divorce means the court resolved one or more of these issues for you. Unless the terms of your agreement or decree give the court authority to later modify alimony, it is likely that your alimony order will remain intact unless you can prove fraud, misrepresentation or mistake.

What Is Difference Between Nominal Alimony & Rehabilitative Alimony?

Alimony is an award of spousal support after a divorce or legal separation. The amount of alimony is determined by the court or by a settlement agreement between the parties, and depends on a variety of factors such as length of marriage, financial status of each party and state alimony guidelines. Some states, such as Florida and Massachusetts, offer nominal alimony awards to preserve a person's right to seek future alimony.

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