Divorce is never a pleasant experience, and in Florida there are laws that include the possibility of alimony. So, what is alimony exactly and what role does it play during the course of the dissolution of a marriage? Also known as maintenance, alimony in Florida is available for a number of people during the course of a divorce, so understanding it is critical. Here, we’ll discuss what it is, who qualifies for it and which factors are considered before a ruling will be made.
Alimony is designed to establish a means of support for a spouse who was likely more dependent on the income of the other spouse to support their lifestyle or the household. For example, in cases where one party has used the income to have a certain living standard, alimony payments are a form of monetary spousal support meant to help maintain that lifestyle post-divorce.
Under Florida law, spousal maintenance may be granted to the dependent spouse as a method of bridging income gaps temporarily while they take action to get into a better financial position of self support. However, in other situations, this support may be granted for a set duration such as in cases where underage children are in the picture. There are also issuances of alimony in Florida on a permanent basis in some situations.
Alimony can be paid on a monthly basis, quarterly, bi-annually or in a lump sum depending upon the agreements between parties and the judges orders. Many factors go into these decisions including non-monetary ones which we’ll discuss now.
While the spouse ordered to pay maintenance might feel that alimony is a punishment, these payments are actually a way of leveling the playing field so to speak. That being said, a number of issues will help a judge determine the need for alimony along with considering several factors beyond income.
The length of a marriage is the first thing a judge will take into account.
However, there are additional things that judges will keep in mind when deciding alimony cases.
Adultery: Of one party was unfaithful, the court will consider these circumstances which can impact either the person seeking alimony or the party being asked for it.
Standard of Living: If one party was accustomed to a certain lifestyle during the marriage, alimony amounts may help them maintain that standard.
Physical Considerations: Age along with any emotional or physical impairments of the party seeking alimony that may hinder income possibilities will be considered.
Couple’s Economics: Each spouse’s economic position, marital and non-marital assets and debts incurred during the union and how they are dispersed during the divorce are factored into judgements.
Education Needs: If the dependent spouse will need to acquire more education in effort to bridge the financial gap, alimony may be ordered on a temporary basis.
Marital Contributions: Contributions by each party such as salary, inherited or acquired assets, homemaking or support in gaining education or starting a business are considered.
As mentioned earlier, there are various types of alimony that are established for different purposes and durations.
Bridge-the-Gap Alimony: Transitional in nature, bridge-the-gap spousal support is intended to help one party have the ability to pay bills and support themselves after a divorce until they can readjust into self-sustainability financially.
Temporary Alimony: During the divorce proceedings, temporary financial relief may be awarded to a dependent spouse until a formal degree is issued. At this time, another form of alimony may be put into place.
Rehabilitative Alimony: This form of spousal support is often ordered when the dependent spouse needs to seek additional training in order to become self-sufficient. Rehabilitative alimony is only ordered by a judge when a specific plan that includes the duration of such program, how much it will cost and how long it will take to achieve self-sustainability. The orders can be modified if circumstances change and the plan is significantly deviated from.
Durational Alimony: This type of spousal maintenance is generally awarded in the dissolution of short-term marriages and in situations where other forms of support aren’t applicable post-marriage. Payments are arranged for only a short duration of time which may not exceed the period of the union. Durational alimony judgments may also be modified should the circumstances of one party change significantly.
Permanent Alimony: Only granted in long and moderate-term marriages, permanent alimony is generally only ordered during unusual situations. Such cases may include when the spouse doesn’t have the ability on their own to meet the standard of lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. This type of decree is primarily subjective, and takes many factors into consideration. For example, if a spouse is used to having luxuries and staff members, alimony may be ordered in amounts substantial enough to maintain that standard of living. Should the recipient enter into a new relationship or begin receiving comparable support from an outside party, the orders may be modified.
Permanent, durational, and bridge-the-gap alimony orders will cease upon the death of either the receiving or paying party. Should the receiving party remarry, alimony will also be discontinued.
Here at The Law Offices of Leonard R. Ross, we have been navigating the often turbulent waters of divorce cases in Florida for four decades. Our experienced, board certified attorneys can help you through your divorce, mediation, child support agreements, and alimony cases. Contact us today at 386-200-9950 to schedule a consultation with one of our marital specialists.