In a recent case of Stark v. Stark, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals 2016, a wife appealed an amended final judgment dissolving her twenty-seven-year marriage to the husband. The trial court awarded the Wife $7000 of bridge-the-gap alimony for eight months, followed by durational alimony of $4900 per month for nine years, and $100 per month in permanent alimony. The Wife did not challenge the amount of alimony awarded, but she contended the trial court erred in awarding a combination of durational and permanent alimony rather than solely awarding permanent alimony. The court agreed with this assessment.
Durational alimony has been described as “an intermediate form of alimony between bridge-the-gap and permanent alimony.” See Broemer v. Broemer, 109 So. 3d 284, 289 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) (quoting Nousari v. Nousari, 94 So. 3d 704, 706 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012)). The Legislature has authorized its use following a marriage of long duration “if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis.” § 61.08(7), Fla. Stat. (2014). Here, the evidence failed to demonstrate that the Wife’s need or the Husband’s ability to pay would be materially different at the end of the durational alimony period than it was at the time the amended final judgment was entered. As a result, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to make the entire $5000 alimony award following the bridge-the-gap alimony period (post January 31, 2016) permanent alimony.
The court noted the evidence failed to demonstrate that the Wife’s need or the Husband’s ability to pay would be materially different at the end of the durational alimony period than it was at the time the amended final judgment was entered. Absent this finding, it was incorrect for the court to reduce the amount once permanent alimony period was triggered.
Anytime a party is looking to modify an award of alimony after final judgment, a party could petition the court. The burden that has to be met by the petitioning party is a “substantial change in circumstances that were unforeseen at the time of the final judgment was entered.” If you have any questions relating to any alimony matters, please contact our office.