How to Obtain Alimony in Florida
Alimony is money that one spouse pays to another for support during a divorce proceeding or for some time after the issuance of a final divorce decree. Often, courts require the higher earner – no matter if it is the husband or the wife – to financially support the lower earner in an effort to maintain status quo for some time so transitioning from married to single life is not as difficult.
In Florida, a family law judge has several options when it comes to awarding alimony depending on the circumstances of each couple. Alimony may be paid over time in equal payments or, alternatively and less commonly, in one lump-sum payment. Spouses may agree to the terms of alimony among themselves, waive it altogether in exchange for something else of value, or a judge may award it to the lower-earning spouse.
Types & Purposes of Florida Alimony
Florida law allows for five different types of alimony: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent. Below is a brief overview of each of these.
- Temporary: awarded during the pendency of the divorce proceeding, the legal term for this type of alimony is pendente lite. If awarded, this automatically terminates upon a formal divorce decree. Temporary alimony can, however, be replaced with another type.
- Bridge-the-gap: commonly referred to as “transitional” alimony, this is intended to help a spouse transition from married to single life by allocating money necessary to pay foreseeable and identifiable expenses associated with re-starting a life.
- Rehabilitative: should the court order this alimony, a specific plan must be included in the order; it often is awarded for the purposes of allowing a former spouse to pursue educational or vocational programs in order to become self-sufficient.
- Durational: often awarded in short or moderate-length marriages, this is available when other types of alimony do not fit the specific circumstances of the divorcing couple. Alimony is awarded in a set amount over a predetermined period of time not to exceed the length of the marriage itself.
- Permanent: often granted in moderate-length and long-term marriages, and only available for short-term marriages in extraordinary circumstances, permanent alimony is awarded when a spouse is incapable of achieving the standard of living experienced during marriage on his or her own.
If either ex-spouse passes away, bridge-the-gap, durational and permanent alimony ceases. Should the receiving ex-spouse remarry, the alimony stops as well. This does not apply, however, to rehabilitative alimony.
Factors Considered in Florida Alimony
Generally, a judge who finds there is both the need and ability for alimony must consider all relevant factors when deciding what type of alimony to award and the duration of this award. Under Florida law, these factors include:
- the financial resources of the spouse seeking alimony (this includes separate property as well as any award of marital property);
- all sources of income, available to either spouse (including investment income);
- the earning capacity, educational history, vocational skills, and employability of each spouse;
- any time and expense needed by the spouse pursuing alimony to obtain education and training for appropriate employment/return to the workforce;
- the standard of living during the marriage;
- the length of the marriage;
- the age, physical and emotional condition of each spouse;
- the contribution to the marriage by each spouse (this includes homemaking, child care, education, and supporting the other spouse to build a career);
- any tax consequences resulting from the alimony award; and
- the responsibilities each spouse will have for any common minor children.
While it does not prohibit or guarantee alimony, a Florida court may also consider whether either spouse committed adultery during the marriage, and under what circumstances the infidelity occurred. It is not uncommon for a court to take this issue into account when one spouse’s affair caused financial harm.
Alimony Help in Florida
If you or someone you know is facing divorce and has questions about alimony – or has any questions relating to Florida’s no-fault divorce system – contact the experienced legal professionals at Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Located in Orlando, our Florida firm provides legal representation to families throughout Central Florida and beyond and our legal professionals can assist you in any family law-related questions you may have. Contact us online or call (407) 521-7171 to schedule your initial case evaluation.