Alimony in Florida
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Alimony is a payment, that the Court may order one spouse to pay the other, to support that spouse upon separation or divorce. It is to provide for the spouse’s needs when there is a disparity in incomes, and to avoid unfair economic consequences of a divorce.
What is a long-term marriage, a short-term marriage, and what is a person entitled to under the law? Until recently, many courts throughout Florida had a different opinion to these questions. The legislature has now taken it out of the hands of the Court and has defined marriage as such:
- Short-term Marriage – any marriage less than 7 years.
- Moderate-term Marriage – greater than 7 years but less than 17 years.
- Long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater.
The length of a marriage is the period from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.
Types of Alimony and their purpose:
Bridge-the-Gap Alimony may be awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs, and the length of an award may not exceed 2 years. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony shall not be modifiable in amount or duration.
Rehabilitative Alimony may be awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either: the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials; or the acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. To award rehabilitative alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan, which shall be included as a part of any order awarding rehabilitative alimony. An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.
Durational Alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period following a marriage of short or moderate duration. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances. However, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances. In addition, durational alimony may not exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent Alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage. Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration, following a marriage of moderate duration if such an award is appropriate upon consideration of certain factors, or following a marriage of short duration if there are exceptional circumstances. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship.
Need and Ability Analysis:
A key factor in understanding the alimony analysis starts with each parties’ financial resources. Therefore, the Court shall first make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony. So, if the Court finds that neither party has a need or that the neither party has the ability to pay alimony, alimony shall not be order. However, if the court finds that a party has a need for alimony and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony, then in determining the proper type and amount of alimony, the court then considers all relevant factors, such as the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the age and the physical and emotional condition of each party, the financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each, the earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment, he contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party, the responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common, the tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment, all sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party, and any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Florida Law on alimony is not easy and has difficult rules and procedures. Do not do it alone. I always offer a free consultation. There is no better way than sitting down face-to-face with me to learn what your rights are and to get what you deserve. If you are reading this, I am sure you know someone, a friend, or family member that has a horror story regarding their own experience. You should always consult an attorney that practices Divorces and Family law, routinely. I do not practice criminal law or elder law, or many other types of law. I am Florida Divorce and Family Law attorney that understands the laws completely, because I handle family law matters on a regular basis. I will always listen compassionately and attentively to your needs and concerns, and provide you with the right family law advice for your particular case.