It is not unusual for a Floridian to make plans to relocate to a foreign country once their divorce is final. After all, we have many immigrant families that still have ties to their home countries. When beginning a new life after a marriage ends, it may be a good thing to return to the place where extended family and friends live.
Or it might just be the right time for a fresh start in a new setting.
Whatever the reason for an international move, it may raise concerns if an alimony order will be in place after the marriage dissolution is final or if the support has already been paid for some time. If the spousal-support recipient moves abroad, what if the payor ex-spouse stops transferring the alimony payments from the U.S.? Enforcement of the alimony order may be more challenging from abroad.
Or if the payor is the one to relocate to a new country and then stops paying, legal action against them to collect arrearages and enforce the alimony order will be more complex and difficult than it would be if the parties were still both in Florida.
There might be valid suspicion of bad faith. Might the reason for such a move be to try to escape an alimony obligation? Does the left-behind party suspect that the other party may be preparing flight to another country for these purposes, or have they made such a threat?
Try to resolve alimony issues through agreement or court petition for modification
International relocation does not extinguish the court-ordered spousal support payment obligation, but legal logistics to pay or enforce the order get more complicated. So, it may be smart to try to negotiate a postdivorce judgement modification agreement to protect the alimony or make the process easier in an international setting. If no agreement can be reached, a party can ask the court for a modification of the original order.
Florida statute provides a basis for these actions by providing that “[t]o the extent necessary to protect an award of alimony, the court may order any party who is ordered to pay alimony to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure such alimony award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose.”
This law plus a survey of Florida cases provide ideas about how securing alimony may work, whether by agreement of the parties or through a court order:
- Payor can get a life insurance policy to secure the alimony.
- Payor can become bonded to guaranty protection of the support.
- The parties could place a lien on the marital home or other real estate.
- The alimony recipient could receive an asset of value (real or personal property) or a lump-sum, up-front payment in lieu of continuing the payments in an international arrangement.
- Property or money could be placed in escrow to secure the alimony.
- And other creative resolutions
Seek legal advice
A Florida family lawyer can assist a party in negotiations to secure alimony threatened by a payor move abroad or to seek enforcement of the original alimony order through the court.