Alimony is used as a means to stabilize the financial resources between spouses after or during a divorce. Alimony in Florida is also referred to as “maintenance” or “spousal support.” Generally, the spouse with the higher financial resources will provide periodic sums or a single sum to the spouse with lower resources, at least until he or she can establish a way to support him or herself.
Frequently, alimony is appropriate in cases where one spouse stayed a home to take care of children or stopped working or going to school for various reasons. One spouse may not have worked at all or has a position that pays significantly less than the other spouse makes.
Types of Alimony in Florida
Florida law, there are five types of alimony available, but only four types are available after the divorce is finalized. The court may award alimony in a lump sum or as periodic payments, or both.
- Temporary alimony. The court can award a very short-term alimony that carries on while the divorce is pending. The alimony may cease after the divorce is finalized, and may or may not be replaced with another type of maintenance.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony. This kind of alimony is a transitional form of maintenance. It is specifically designed to allow a married person to become single over time. Alimony used in this way is generally allocated toward specific goals or restarting a life without a spouse who provided a second (or first) income.
- Rehabilitative alimony. This type of maintenance payment is specifically for a spouse who needs to do retraining to return to the workforce, such as attending an educational program or a vocational skill program. The alimony is in place only as long as necessary to complete the program and obtain employment. That means that the spouse receiving the alimony should have a very specific plan in mind to request it.
- Durational alimony. Durational alimony is specifically for short-term marriage situations. Unlike other forms of maintenance, it is that for a particular period that cannot exceed the length of the marriage.
- Permanent alimony. Although Florida has seen some debate regarding permanent alimony, this type of alimony remains intact in Florida law as of June 2017. Permanent alimony is awarded for long and moderately long marriages. It is used when one spouse does not have the ability to achieve the financial status established during the marriage on their own. This is true regardless of whether the spouse can go back to school or retrain to join the workforce. This type of alimony is often seen in high asset marriages, particularly in situations where one spouse works in the other does not.
How the Court Determines Whether to Award Alimony
The court will consider a number of factors in determining whether alimony is appropriate. These factors are set out by statute under Florida law, and the judge is required to take stock of the entire situation before awarding alimony. These factors include:
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Physical and emotional condition of each party
- Duration of the marriage
- Independent financial resources of each party
- Earning capacity, education levels, and the general employability of each spouse
- Contribution of each party to the marriage
- Responsibilities of minor children after the divorce
- All sources of income available to each spouse
The court is also permitted to consider “Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties,” which means the court has significant deference in awarding alimony under Florida law.
You can significantly increase your chances of obtaining a favorable result regarding alimony by using the services of an experienced family law attorney. Contact our firm for more information or to schedule an appointment: 813-280-5301.