Alimony may be granted to either party and is based on the requesting spouse's need and the ability of the other spouse to pay. In Florida, there are four categories of alimony: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent alimony. The court may order periodic payments, lump-sum payments, or both.
Marriages are categorized as short-term; moderate-term, or long-term. A short-term marriage is one which has lasted less than seven years. A moderate-term marriage has a duration of more than seven years, but less than 17 years. And a long-term marriage is one which has lasted for 17 years or longer.
Temporary alimony in Florida is issued to a spouse in need of financial support during the duration of the divorce proceedings. It is primarily meant to support the spouse in financial need as the actual divorce process is finalized.
After the divorce proceedings are complete, temporary alimony stops. Another type of alimony may be awarded to the spouse if they receive a ruling in their favor.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is meant to help a spouse make the transition from being married to being single by providing support for legitimate identifiable short-term needs. The length of this type of award may not exceed two years and the duration is not modifiable
Rehabilitative alimony is meant to help the receiving spouse achieve self-sufficiency by either redeveloping previous skills or credentials; or by acquiring the education, training, or work experience necessary to develop applicable employment skills or credential. A specific and defined rehabilitative plan must be included as part of the order. This type of alimony may be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances, if the receiving party does not comply with the rehabilitative plan or upon completion of the plan.
Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is not appropriate. Its purpose is to provide the receiving party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration. This amount awarded with this type of alimony may be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances. The length of the award, however, is generally not modifiable, except under exceptional circumstances, but may not exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent Alimony may be awarded to a spouse who lacks the financial ability to meet his/her needs and the necessities of life as they were established during the marriage. Permanent alimony may be awarded following a long duration marriage, or a moderate duration marriage if appropriate. It may only be awarded after a short duration marriage with exceptional circumstances. Permanent alimony may be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive, cohabitative relationship between the receiving spouse and a person not related by blood or affinity.
Bridge-the-gap, Durational and Permanent Alimony ends upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the receiving party.
Lump sum alimony is awarded as (1) a property interest; (2) a monetary support payment; or (3) an award to ensure an equitable distribution of marital assets. There are two requirements for this kind of alimony:
(1) that the award is necessary for support or to equalize the party’s status; or
(2) unusual circumstances that would require a support award that is not modifiable.
If it is determined that there is a need for alimony by one party and that the other spouse has the ability to pay, the court will then review certain factors to decide on the proper type and amount of alimony to be ordered. These criteria include the following:
The standard of living established during the marriage;
The duration of the marriage;
The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party;
The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each;
The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to permit him/her to find appropriate employment;
The contribution of each party to the marriage, including services rendered in homemaking, child care, education and career building of the other party;
The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common;
The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award;
All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party; and
Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the relevant circumstances when deciding on the amount for alimony, if any, to be awarded.
If a court finds it necessary, it may order the paying spouse to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy, bond, or some other means of security for the alimony award.
To receive alimony, it must be requested in writing in the original Petition or Counter Petition. If it is not requested in writing before the final hearing, it is waived and cannot be requested later.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Florida, or have filed for divorce and are facing alimony questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Jacksonville Family Law Lawyer. Attorney Goggins is experienced and has the dedication and knowledge required to represent you in your divorce proceedings. Contact Ashley Goggins Law, P.A., for a comprehensive consultation at 904-903-4522, or schedule a consultation online.