Alimony, also known as spousal support, can be granted by the court when one spouse requests financial support to be awarded to him or her from the other spouse when a divorce decree is issued.
Many forms of alimony exist and the court will look at not only the needs of the spouse requesting alimony, but also the ability of the other spouse to pay alimony. Under Florida Statute 61.08(1), the court may grant alimony to either party, which may be bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational or permanent in nature, or any combination of these forms of alimony depending on a number of different factors.
For any award of alimony, the court in Palm Beach County, FL, may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. The court may also consider the adultery of either spouse in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.
An alimony award is additional to any child support that may also be awarded in a divorce; however, the court will also consider the child support amount when determining an alimony award. But unlike child support, there is no mathematical calculation required by Florida law in determining alimony.
This article explains the factors used by judges to award alimony in divorce cases in the Unified Family Court in West Palm Beach and throughout Palm Beach County, FL. Call us today to schedule a consultation about alimony with one of our family law attorneys in Boca Raton, FL. Our experienced lawyers can help you understand how alimony might be determined in your case.
If you need to discuss spousal support or alimony in your divorce case with an experienced family law attorney in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, or surrounding areas of Palm Beach County, Florida, then contact Yaffa & Associates.
Our attorneys are experienced in alimony cases, including representing the lower income spouse seeking alimony as well as representing the higher income spouse in defending against a request for alimony.
Find out what you need to know about Florida alimony law and the best way to resolve your case by calling Yaffa & Associates at (561) 276-3880 today.
The purpose behind alimony is to allow the lower-earning spouse in a divorcing couple to maintain a standard of living that he or she was accustomed to during the marriage, at least for a period of time. Alimony was also intended to prevent the lower-earning spouse from depending on the state for public assistance.
An alimony award is not intended to punish one spouse or reward the other, nor is it meant to enrich one spouse at the expense of the other. It is an attempt to maintain a quality of life after the divorce consistent with the financial situation during the marriage, so as not to adversely affect the lower-earning spouse.
To obtain a divorce in Florida, one of the parties in the marriage must reside in the state for six months before the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage (F.S. 61.021). If the parties have a prenuptial or premarital agreement, also known as a “prenup,” then the court should simply enforce the provisions of the premarital agreement (F.S. 61.079(3)), including any existing agreement regarding alimony (F.S. 61.079(4)(a)(3)).
If alimony is not addressed in a prenuptial agreement, the court must make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony and whether the other party has the ability to pay alimony.
When considering alimony, the Court may consider the following factors:
See F.S. 61.08(2).
Florida courts can also require that the person ordered to pay alimony purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure the alimony award with any other suitable assets (F.S. 61.08(3)).
Since Florida law currently does not offer a particular mathematical formula for calculating alimony, judges have wide discretion in awarding alimony. The type of alimony awarded usually dictates the duration of the alimony.
The court can award different types of alimony depending on the specifics of a particular case, and the order could be for a lump sum alimony payment or payments to be distributed over time, including:
A type of alimony awarded in Florida cases where one spouse requires financial support while the divorce is pending. Once the divorce is finalized, temporary alimony ends immediately.
May be awarded in Florida to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony in Florida is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs, and the length of an award may not exceed two years. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony cannot be modified in amount or duration (F.S. 61.08(5)).
Payments made to assist the spouse in obtaining additional career training or education. In order to award rehabilitative alimony under Florida law, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan which shall be included as a part of any order awarding rehabilitative alimony (F.S. 61.08(6)(b)).
A series of payments made periodically (usually on a monthly basis) for a certain amount of time after the divorce is granted in Florida. Durational alimony may not be modified and may not exceed the length of the marriage except under exceptional circumstances (F.S. 61.08(7)).
A series of payments made periodically (usually on a monthly basis) without any termination date other than the death of either party receiving alimony or the remarriage of the recipient spouse (F.S. 61.08(8)).
The length of the marriage can affect the amount of an alimony award in Florida, with long-term marriages more likely to produce alimony awards than moderate- or short-term marriages (F.S. 61.08(8)).
Long-term marriage is defined as a marriage lasting 17 years or more, moderate-term marriages as those having a duration of more than seven years but less than 17 years, and short-term marriages as those lasting less than seven years, although these assumptions are “rebuttable” (F.S. 61.08(4)).
An award of any type of alimony in Florida may not render the paying ex-spouse with “significantly less net income than the net income of the recipient unless there are written findings of exceptional circumstances” (F.S. 61.08(9)).
Alimony may be considered taxable for the former spouse receiving it and tax-deductible by the ex-spouse paying it. Lump-sum alimony payments are typically considered as distributions of property and are typically not tax-deductible by the paying spouse nor are they treated as income to the receiving spouse.
After the divorce is finalized, a permanent alimony award by a Florida court may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances. F.S. 61.14 details the enforcement and modifications of alimony, child support or time-sharing agreements or orders.
An attempt by the Florida Legislature to reform the state’s alimony laws died without a vote in 2015. Provisions in the proposed law included the elimination of permanent alimony and restrictions on modifications of alimony, as well as the creation of guidelines for alimony amounts based on income.
A previous alimony reform bill was vetoed by Florida’s governor in 2013. Proponents of alimony reform have pledged to try again in 2016.
Florida Courts Website, Family Law Self-Help Information — At the Florida Courts web site, you will find printable forms and other information about alimony, divorce, and resources and publications covering a wide variety of family court-related topics.
Alimony Statutes at the Official Site of the Florida Legislature — Log on to the Florida Legislature’s web site for the statute enumerating the state’s primary alimony laws. You can also search for other laws related to divorce and a variety of family law topics under Title VI, Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes.
If your divorce case involves a request for alimony or spousal support, then you should contact an experienced family law attorney at Yaffa & Associates in Boca Raton, FL, to schedule a consultation. Find out what you need to do right now to protect your rights and resolve your case on the most favorable terms.
We represent clients throughout Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Wellington, and Jupiter, Florida, as well as surrounding areas.
During the consultation, one of our attorneys can discuss with you the different types of alimony, including bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, and permanent alimony. Learn more about the factors the judge will consider in your case in determining whether to award alimony at all, what type of alimony to award, how long to award alimony, and the amount to be awarded.
Call (561) 276-3880 today to discuss the unique facts of your case with an experienced divorce attorney in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Florida.
<!—edited by ls 9/8/15 -->