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Wife Petitions Court for a Modification of Alimony Payments Based on Husband’s Underemployment


Generally speaking, the Florida courts will award alimony payments based on the recipient’s need and the payer’s ability to pay. The courts also consider factors like the length of the marriage. In many cases, disputes over alimony arise. That was the issue in one Florida court case involving a wife who alleged her husband was underemployed. In this article, the Tampa, FL alimony attorneys at Westchase Law, P.A. will discuss the court case and the various issues that arose from it.

Background of the case 

In the case of Cipollina v. Cipollina, the trial court found that the marital estate should be unequally distributed in favor of the wife but denied her periodic alimony payments based on the husband’s apparent inability to pay. Later, the wife filed a petition seeking a modification of the alimony agreement alleging that her husband failed to make an effort to secure similar income to what he earned during the marriage. She alleged that her husband had significant earning potential given his experience in the banking industry.

However, when making any modification to a divorce decree, you must generally establish that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original judgment. In this case, the wife failed to present evidence regarding her husband’s ability to pay or establish that there were available employment opportunities in banking that he could pursue. The husband argued that his financial situation hadn’t changed at all. Since the divorce, he had secured a position operating a hardware franchise that lost money. He testified that he could not find employment in the banking industry due to a lack of familiarity with modern technology. Nonetheless, the trial court granted the wife’s petition and increased the husband’s alimony payments. The husband appealed the decision.

The appellate court found in favor of the husband and reversed the trial court’s ruling. The appeals court ruled that Florida law only allows for a modification of alimony if there has been a substantial change in the payer’s circumstances. The party who is seeking the modification of alimony must establish that this significant change has occurred. In the case mentioned above, the husband successfully argued that the wife had failed to establish that there was any change in his circumstances.

In this case, the wife had the burden of proving that the husband’s financial situation had significantly changed. She could not assert that the husband’s failure to get employment in banking was evidence of underemployment. The husband successfully established that his financial situation remained consistent with his business currently operating at a loss. The appellate court ultimately found that the trial court erred when awarding alimony to the wife. As such, they reversed the order that granted alimony to the wife.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Divorce Attorney Today 

The Tampa, FL divorce attorneys at Westchase Law, P.A. represent the interests of those pursuing a divorce in Florida. We will guide you through all aspects of the divorce and ensure that your needs are being addressed in the settlement. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, and learn more about how we can help.



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