Alimony, also known as spousal support, is an amount of money the court orders one spouse to pay to another for a period of time following a divorce. It is important to understand from the outset that alimony is not automatically ordered in every divorce. Rather, one party must first request alimony, while the other party may challenge the claim that one party needs alimony or that the party can afford to pay. This is where we come in.
Florida Alimony Law
When alimony is requested in a Florida divorce, the judge will first make a specific, factual determination of the requesting party’s need for alimony and the other party’s ability to pay. If these facts are established, the judge will then go on to determine what type of alimony and how much to award, whether in a lump sum, through periodic payments, or both.
Florida law recognizes four different types of alimony that can be awarded, and the judge can order any one or a combination of the following:
Bridge-the-gap – to assist a party in the transition from married to single life. May last up to two years.
Rehabilitative – to help a party become self-supporting by redeveloping skills or credentials or acquiring new education, training or work experience, in accordance with a written rehabilitation plan.
Durational – to provide economic assistance for a set period of time.
Permanent – to provide for the needs and necessities of life as established during the marriage, when a party lacks the financial ability to meet those needs on his or her own. More likely to be granted after a marriage that lasted 17 years or more.
The Florida alimony statute sets out ten different factors for the judge to consider in making an alimony award. These factors are:
(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage.
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
(e) 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.
(f) The 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.
(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
(h) 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.
(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
The judge may also consider allegations of adultery in determining the appropriate amount of alimony.
How Our Lawyers Can Help
When alimony is being sought by one party and contested by the other, litigation may be necessary to resolve the dispute and determine how the issue of alimony will be handled. When necessary, our experienced divorce litigators prepare and present a persuasive case in court based on the need for alimony, the ability to pay, and the many different factors used by the court to determine whether alimony is proper, what kind, how much and for how long. Rest assured that your voice will be heard in court; our divorce lawyers are strong advocates for our clients’ needs.
Of course, divorce litigation and trials are not necessary in every case. Many alimony disputes and other contested divorce issues can be resolved through negotiation, mediation or the collaborative process. Our family law attorneys are committed to an optimal, efficient resolution that meets your needs and will be voluntarily implemented by the parties without the need for court intervention. Whatever level of representation the case calls for, our attorneys have the skills and experience to address your needs and work toward an acceptable solution.