Alimony in Florida Divorce
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After equitable distribution has been completed the court may consider an award of alimony. The court may grant alimony to either spouse. Florida alimony is governed strictly by Florida Statute.
For the court to award alimony, the requesting spouse must demonstrate their need for alimony and additionally the ability of the other spouse to pay alimony. Once the requesting spouse has established a need and an ability to pay, the court must determine all relevant factors to determine the property type and amount of alimony to award.
Length of marriage is one factor in determining the type and amount of alimony payment. For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having duration of less than 7 years; a mid-term marriage is a marriage of 7 to 17 years. A long-term marriage is a marriage of 17 years or greater. Length of a marriage determined from the date of the marriage, to the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.
There are various types of alimony in Florida. Modifying alimony payments in Florida is not an option in all types of Florida alimony.
- Temporary Alimony is available during the proceedings, and can be used to pay attorney fees. In Florida, Temporary alimony cannot be waived, including in pre nuptial or post nuptial agreements. Temporary alimony is also known as Alimony Pendente Lite.
- Nominal Alimony is an award of alimony for a de minimus amount, allowing the court to retain jurisdiction to modify the alimony amount in the future. The court may award nominal alimony because the law in Florida is that after a final judgment alimony may be added, but if any alimony award exists, such award can be modified if the challenging party can show a substantial change in circumstances.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony is designed to assist a party with short term or specific needs (such as get a car, or set up a new household) to bridge the gap between married and single life. Length of the award may not exceed two (2) years. Amount and duration may not be modified. Bridge-the-Gap alimony terminates upon the death or remarriage of either party.
- Rehabilitative Alimony is awarded to assist a party in obtaining education or training necessary to become self-sufficient. The Court requires a specific and defined rehabilitative plan, which must be included as a part of the award order. The amount and duration of rehabilitative alimony be modified or terminated upon showing of a substantial change in circumstances, or non-compliance with plan or upon completion of the plan. Rehabilitative alimony terminates on completion or failure of the rehabilitation plan, or the death of either party. Rehabilitative alimony may be set to survive remarriage of the recipient or death of the payor.
- Durational Alimony is awarded to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time. Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent alimony is determined to be inappropriate. Durational alimony is generally awarded for short or moderate term marriages or for long term if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. The amount of the award for durational alimony may be modified or terminated if there has been a substantial change in circumstances or evidence of a supportive relationship. The duration of the award may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances. Durational alimony terminates at the death of either party or remarriage of recipient, and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
- Permanent Alimony is awarded by the standard of “to support a spouse who lacks the resources and ability to be self-sustaining.” Permanent alimony must include a court finding that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. Following a long-term marriage the court can award permanent alimony in its discretion. Following moderate-term marriage, the court can award permanent alimony if there is a showing of clear and convincing evidence that a spouse lacks the resources and ability to be self-sustaining. Following a short-term marriage, the court can award such alimony only if there is showing of exceptional circumstances that a spouse lacks the resources and ability to be self-sustaining. Permanent alimony may be waived and may be modified or terminated upon showing a substantial change in circumstances. Permanent alimony terminates upon death of either spouse or remarriage of receiving spouse.
- Lump Sum Alimony is a lump sum payment at the time of divorce. Lump sum alimony is not modifiable except when fraud is present. Once judgment is issued, the spouse receiving lump sum alimony has a vested interest in the award, meaning the obligation will not terminate upon the death of the paying spouse or upon a contingent event such as the remarriage of the needy spouse. Lump sum alimony is a fixed amount of alimony, though it can be ordered paid in installments over time.
The factors the court considers when determining the type and amount of the alimony award include, but are not limited to:
- Length of the marriage (an important consideration);
- Standard of living (vacations, cars, house, children’s schooling);
- Age (e.g. If one spouse is elderly and out of work, it is unlikely that the spouse will become self-sufficient);
- Time needed to obtain education & training;
- Financial resources of each party after collecting their share of equitable distribution;
- All sources of income available to either party;
- Contribution to the marriage (services, homemaking, childcare, building career of your spouse);
- Emotional and physical condition of each party;
- Any other factor to foster equity.
You have the right to obtain information about your spouse’s income and assets through the use of discovery procedures. Discovery includes the exchange of documents and answers to written or oral questions.
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