Alimony

 

Unlike child support, there is no formula used to determine the amount of spousal support, or alimony. Because of this, the experience, negotiating skills and creativity of your attorney is of paramount importance. Our attorneys at West Family Law Group have the knowledge and experience to establish a fair and reasonable outcome for you, taking into consideration the complexities of family law and income tax laws.

 
 

Alimony, which is also known as maintenance, is available through Florida law. it is financial support through which a spouse with greater financial resources supports a former spouse. The main purpose of alimony is to assist one party in maintaining the standard of living established during the marriage. It is often critical for a person to carry on their life. If you are seeking monetary support, approaching the issue of alimony in this manner allows you to present a clear case about why the award of alimony is justified.

Considerations

Alimony is a recognition that one spouse may have more resources and income than the other to be self-supportive going forward. It is based on the financial ability of the "payor" spouse and the need of the “recipient” spouse for such assistance. The earning potential and income from the assets awarded to the receiving spouse are also considered.

Alimony is not meant to punish one party, although the ability of a Florida judge to consider adultery or other bad behavior of a spouse when determining whether to award alimony, and how much to order, does permit an element of judgment for bad behavior.

The length of a marriage is very important in determining alimony. Marriage length classification is based upon how many years it lasted:

  • Short-term: less than 7 years
  • Moderate-term: more than 7 or years but less than 17 years
  • Long-term: 17 years or more

 

Types of Alimony

Under Florida law, alimony is granted to a spouse. It can be awarded temporarily, to bridge the gap, be rehabilitative (i.e., intended to get the person to a position where they can take care of expenses without assistance), durational or permanent. Alimony can be paid on a determined interval, awarded in a lump sum or be a combination of the two.

The types of alimony are intended for different purposes:

Temporary Alimony is an award of alimony during the divorce proceeding. This award is automatically terminated upon the entry of the final divorce decree and may be replaced by one of the other types of alimony.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony is transitional alimony. It is intended to help a spouse go from being married to being single by allocating the funds necessary to pay foreseeable and identifiable bills associated with re-starting a life without a spouse. It is typically used in very short marriages.

Rehabilitative Alimony is used when a spouse will need to pursue different educational programs or specific vocational skill training to obtain employment that will allow for self-sufficiency. When a court grants a party rehabilitative alimony, the order needs to include a specific plan. For instance, a person who enjoys working with horses may decide to pursue a career as a farrier and the plan will include the estimated length of time of the program, associated costs, required time as an apprentice, and the period before the spouse anticipates achieving self-sufficiency. The spouse receiving or paying the alimony may petition for a modification of the order if circumstances change or the receiving spouse deviates significantly from the plan.

Durational Alimony is awarded in the instance of a short or moderate-term marriage. It is available when the other types of alimony do not fit the circumstances of the divorcing couple. It is awarded as a set amount over a pre-determined period, not to exceed the length of the marriage. Therefore, if the couple getting a divorce was married for seven years, the award of durational alimony cannot exceed seven years, but is usually less.

Permanent Alimony is usually granted only in long-term marriages, occasionally in moderate term marriages and will only be available for a short-term marriage under extraordinary circumstances. Permanent alimony is available to a spouse who cannot maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage with regard to necessities of life and general needs. This is a very subjective standard as the court will review the couple’s lifestyle during the marriage and determine what is reasonable. A person with extensive staff and luxuries may be awarded enough to reasonably maintain a similar lifestyle after the divorce.

Alimony At A Glance

Alimony is financial support through which a spouse with greater financial resources supports a former spouse

  • Its main purpose: to assist one party in maintaining the standard of living established during the marriage
  • Unlike child support, no formula used to determine the amount
    • You must present a clear case of justification
    • It is based on the financial ability of the "payor" spouse and the need of the “recipient” spouse
    • The earning potential and income from the assets awarded to recipient also considered
  • Length of a marriage is very important in determining alimony
    • Short-term: less than 7 years
    • Moderate-term: more than 7 years but less than 17 years
    • Long-term: 17 years or more
  • Alimony can be awarded to
    • Be temporary 
    • Bridge the gap
    • Be rehabilitative (intended to get the person to a position where they can take care of expenses without assistance)
    • Be durational
    • Be permanent

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