Length of Marriage Not Sole Factor in Determining Alimony
Across the nation family law judges are ruling on divorce cases and, most likely, awarding alimony. Contrary to popular belief, the dissolution of a marriage that lasted several years – or decades – is not in itself enough to justify an alimony award. In fact, a recent New Jersey court ruling held that judges must consider more than just the length of the marriage when determining alimony payments during a divorce proceeding, according to a recent NewJersey.com report. This fact does not only hold true in New Jersey; under well-settled Florida law, the courts must take several factors into account when determining alimony payments.
In a unanimous decision, the court held that a trial and appellate court incorrectly ruled on the type of alimony a husband was required to pay to his ex-spouse. The couples, Elizabeth and James Gnall, were married for almost 15 years before filing for divorce. The trial court found permanent alimony to be inappropriate, and the appellate court disagreed based on the length of the marriage. The Supreme Court found both lower courts erred, noting marriage length is just one of many factors to be considered and not the main factor.
If you or someone you know is facing divorce, contact a competent alimony attorney right away to understand your rights and obligations under the law.
Florida’s Alimony Factors
Alimony is defined as the legal obligation of one spouse to provide financial support for the other spouse during and/or after a divorce or marital separation. The goal of alimony is to lessen any unfair economic consequences resulting from the legal separation. Also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, alimony can be paid by either spouse; prior to the 1970s the husband traditionally paid alimony to the wife.
Under Florida law, courts will look at the following factors when determining alimony payments:
- The length of the marriage;
- Financial resources (including assets and liabilities) of each party;
- Tax consequences resulting from the alimony payment;
- Age, emotional and physical conditions of each party;
- Standard of living prior and during the marriage;
- Each party’s contribution to the marriage;
- Each party’s earning capacities; and
- Any other factors deemed necessary by the court.
Alimony payments may also affect the way a court distributes marital assets, and marital fault (especially adultery) may be factored in when making a decision on the award. Additionally, a court may order a spouse who is paying alimony to purchase and maintain life insurance or secure the payments should he or she pass in some other manner.
Alimony Help in Orlando
If you or someone you know has questions relating to alimony obligations Florida – or any other family law related issue – contact the experienced legal professionals at Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Make sure you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side when going through a divorce. Call (407) 521-7171 to schedule your initial consultation.