Alimony Under Florida Law
At the time of divorce or dissolution of marriage, a court can enter an award of alimony for either party. The award of alimony is not automatic, and can be argued for or against by either party. The court has several different types of alimony it may award, and can also specify whether the amount will be made in the form of a lump sum, periodic payments, or a combination of both.
The court considers many factors when determining an alimony award. These include the established standard of living reached during marriage; the age and physical/emotional state of both parties; the total income and other financial resources and obligations of both parties; the earning capacities of each party, including their educational levels and vocational skills; the potential time required by either party to acquire skills necessary to pursue gainful employment; and many more.
Calculating an Equitable Alimony Award Can Be a Challenging and Involved Process
In the way of standardizing the process of arriving at an equitable spousal maintenance award, Florida has created five different categories of alimony, which are designed to address different sorts of circumstances surrounding dissolution of marriage. They are designed to directly address the difficulties that parties face in terms of returning to the work force, and also in terms of the length of the marriage.
- Bridge the Gap: This type of payment is probably the most common in shorter duration marriage, or those in which both spouses have more significant financial resources independent of the marriage relationship. This type of support is intended to help the party make the transition from being married to being single. It is temporary in nature, lasting no more than two years, and is not modifiable in amount or duration.
- Rehabilitative: This is another temporary type of award that is designed to allow a party to seek educational opportunities that will lead to better employment. It is geared both towards those who have prior experience which they seek to update, and those who are seeking an entirely new career. Eligibility under this section requires an explicit accompanying plan. Modification or termination may be sought upon a showing of a substantial change of circumstances, if the plan is not followed, or once the plan is satisfied.
- Durational: This is essentially a form of financial security for a party for a term of years. It is intended to be used in the marriages of longer duration where permanent support isn’t appropriate for some reason. A showing of a substantial change of circumstances is necessary for other modification or termination. However, it is important to note that the length of a durational support award may generally not be modified.
- Permanent: A permanent support award is designed to provide a sustained means of support for a party in order to provide them with the standard of living achieved during marriage. It is intended to support a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her own needs to meet this standard following the dissolution of marriage. It is primarily intended for marriages of longer duration, although in some exceptional circumstances can be awarded for marriages of shorter duration. In order to conclude that a permanent support award is appropriate, the court must include a finding that no other form of maintenance is fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties. A showing of a substantial change in circumstances, or upon the existence of a supportive relationship (not necessarily marriage), as defined by law, is required for a modification or termination. Support is automatically terminated under all of the sections upon a death of either party, or upon the re-marriage of the party receiving support.
- Lump-sum Alimony: The Court can order lump sum alimony alone or with payments as is equitable in any given situation.
Many of us may not realize how intertwined marriage is with finances. Keep in mind that once the marriage has ended, you will be solely responsible for all of your financial obligations. This includes food, clothing, utilities, rent, car payments, car insurance, health insurance, credit card payments, student loan payments, as well as any other expenses. Sometimes it can be helpful to make a list of the various obligations you anticipate having to be responsible for when preparing to meet with your attorney, so you can have a starting point for your initial discussion.
The various types of spousal support are meant to ensure that a spouse is entitled to the same sort of standard of living that they enjoyed during the marriage. If an individual has spent a long time as the primary homemaker or caretaker for children, this may have affected their ability to make income following divorce. This is just one of the potential factors that the court will consider when arriving at a fair alimony award.
Once the court has entered an alimony order, it can further order the payor spouse to secure a life insurance policy or bond in order to ensure the future payment of alimony obligations. This is to ensure that the spouse is taken care of should something happen to the payor.
Contact Experienced Divorce Attorney at the Law Office of Craig W. Turner
The Law Offices of Craig W. Turner will fight to get you a fair alimony judgment. Whether you wish to secure a one-time lump sum or a monthly payment, let us help you. Divorce is stressful enough without having to take on the additional burden of financial instability. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation. You can contact us through our online contact form on our website or by calling (352) 629-4442.