Duration of Marriage and Alimony
When determining whether alimony is appropriate in a divorce case and how much spousal support to award, the court looks at a number of factors. One of these factors is the length of the marriage in question. The duration of the marriage can have a significant effect on the amount of alimony that is awarded and has been looked at for reform over the last few legislative sessions.
Duration of Marriage
Under Fla. Stat. 61.08, “For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.”
It is important to note that under the law, the presumption of the duration of marriage is rebuttable by one or both of the spouses involved in the divorce. One of the most common rebuttals is for one spouse to show that during the course of the marriage there was a term of separation, thus shortening the length of time that the spouses were formally together.
The length of the marriage is mainly applied when a judge determines that durational alimony is the proper type of spousal support in the divorce. According to the law, durational alimony is most appropriate when the court finds that periodic permanent alimony is not. The statute states that “The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis,” which is why the determination of the duration of the marriage is so important.
One of the most important aspects of durational alimony is that the length of the spousal support is not allowed to exceed the length of the marriage. For short- and moderate-term marriages, this means that there is a definite end to the support for one spouse.
Attempts at Reform
In the most recent attempt at legislative reform of the alimony system in Florida, lawmakers wanted to use the duration of the marriage to further inform the length of time that spousal support would be awarded. Under the proposed bill, alimony payments would last for 25 to 75% of the length of the marriage, and the short-, moderate, and long-term labels would no longer be necessary. However, the latest attempt at alimony reform died in the legislature in April, thus making the determination of the duration marriages still necessary for spousal support.
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Call the office or contact us today at Steve W. Marsee, P.A. for a free and private review of your family law case. Located in Orlando, our experienced office is here to help you with your alimony issues.