Alimony is monetary support paid from one spouse to another, either during or after divorce proceedings. While there are several different kinds of alimony, in the most general sense alimony is paid from one spouse to another to maintain the standard of living the receiving spouse had become accustomed to during the marriage.
Is Alimony Always Available?
Alimony payments are not a part of every divorce decree. In order for a judge to award alimony payments to a spouse, that spouse must show that there is a need for alimony and that the paying spouse has the ability to make the alimony payments. A spouse can prove there is a need by showing that he or she will not be able to achieve his or her former standard of living after considering income, as well as any proceeds from the equitable distribution of the marital assets.
Determining Alimony Support Payments in Florida
Once a judge decides that alimony payments are appropriate under Florida law, the judge will consider the following factors when determining the amount of alimony:
- The standard of living during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age, as well as the physical and emotional condition of the parties;
- The financial resources of the parties;
The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, employability of the parties, and the time necessary to acquire education or training;
- Each party’s contribution to the marriage including financial support and services;
- Each party’s responsibilities with the minor children;
- All sources of income available to either party.
Types of Alimony Payments in Florida Divorces
There are several types of alimony payments in Florida. It is within the court’s discretion to award no alimony, or to make an award combining different categories of alimony.
- Temporary: Temporary alimony is paid while a divorce is pending.
- Permanent Periodic: This type of alimony grants payments to the receiving spouse for life, or until they remarry or cohabitate. In order for a court to order permanent periodic alimony, one party must show: (1) that the marriage was long-term; (2) a disparity in income between the parties; and (3) the recipient’s income from all sources falls below the level of need established during the time of the marriage.
- Rehabilitative: This kind of alimony provides the recipient with resources to ultimately become self-sufficient by developing skills or assisting them in acquiring training, education, or professional experience. To receive rehabilitative alimony, the recipient must establish a specific rehabilitative plan that shows the court how the party plans to use the alimony to become self-sufficient.
- Bridge-the-Gap: Generally awarded in short-term marriages, bridge-the-gap alimony only lasts a relatively short time and is designed to allow the recipient to adjust to single life.
- Lump Sum: 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.
- Durational: Durational alimony is awarded in short or moderate-term marriages to provide the
recipient with financial assistance during a predefined time period. Though the level of
durational alimony can be changed or terminated, the length cannot be modified unless
exceptional circumstances are present.
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