When Is Spousal Support Awarded in Florida?
When a marriage is dissolved in Florida, the court may grant alimony to either spouse. In a minority of cases, spousal support may be awarded temporarily while divorce proceedings are pending to bridge the gap on a short-term basis, assist a party in gaining capacity for self-support through education, training, work experience, or redevelopment of previous skills, or to provide a party with economic assistance for a set time period. In deciding whether to award spousal support, the court must make a factual determination as to the need for alimony by either spouse, and the ability to pay. Family law courts consider various factors, including:
- Duration of the marriage
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Age and health of each party in the divorce, both physically and emotionally
- Contribution of each party to the marriage, including services rendered in childcare, education, homemaking, and career building of the other spouse
- Financial resources of the two parties, including the separate and marital assets and liabilities distributed to each
- Income available to either party, including income through investments of any asset
- Education level, vocational skills, earning capacity, and employability of each party
- Time needed for either spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to obtain appropriate employment
- Responsibilities of each party regarding any minor children of the marriage
- The tax treatment and consequences of any alimony award for both parties
- Any factor necessary to achieve justice and equity between the two divorcing parties
What Types of Alimony Are Possible Under Current Legislation?
On July 1, 2023, Senate Bill (SB) 1416 went into effect in Florida. This legislation amended existing laws related to the dissolution of marriage. The new law eliminates the option for judges to award permanent (lifetime) spousal support. The four types of alimony that may now be awarded are:
- Temporary alimony: Spousal support is paid by one party to another on a temporary basis, while a divorce is pending.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony: Short-term spousal support, limited to two years, may be awarded by the court.
- Rehabilitative alimony: Designed to help the receiving spouse become self-supportive, rehabilitative alimony is limited to five years.
- Durational alimony: This is the only longer-term spousal support now available in Florida. Its purpose is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following the marriage. Pre-defined caps are set on the duration of alimony based on the length of the marriage.
What Happens When a Party Receiving Alimony Remarries?
Under Florida law, periodic spousal support terminates automatically upon the remarriage of the party receiving payments. The party making payments may stop making them immediately upon the date of the marriage. He or she is not required to petition the court for an order terminating alimony. Spousal support payments also terminate automatically with the death of either spouse.
What Is a “Supportive Relationship” Under Florida Alimony Law?
For purposes of spousal support in Florida, a “supportive relationship” is a relationship between a party receiving alimony and another person with whom that party resides. It is a relationship that takes the place of a marriage financially, in whole or in part and reduces the need of the alimony recipient for financial support. To qualify as a “supportive relationship,” it must be the functional equivalent of remarriage.
What Happens When a Party Receiving Alimony Is in a “Supportive Relationship”?
Under the new legislation, a court must reduce or terminate an alimony award if it makes specific written findings that a supportive relationship exists. The burden is on the party paying alimony to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that such a relationship exists. Once this is proven, the burden shifts to the party receiving alimony to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the court should not reduce or terminate spousal support.
What Factors Do Courts Consider When a “Supportive Relationship” Is Alleged?
The court may consider certain factors in determining whether an alimony award should be reduced or terminated because of an alleged “supportive relationship,” including the following:
- The amount of time the alimony payee has resided with the other person in a permanent place of abode
- The extent to which the alimony payee and the other person have pooled income or assets or otherwise demonstrated financial interdependence
- The extent to which they have held themselves out as a married couple, for example, by using the same mailing address or the same name or by referring to each other as husband or wife
- The extent to which either has supported the other
- The extent to which they have performed valuable services for each other
- The extent to which either has performed valuable services for the company or employer of the other
- Evidence of an express or implied agreement regarding property sharing or support
- Whether they have jointly contributed to the purchase of any real or personal property or worked together to create or enhance anything of value
- Whether they have provided support to each other’s children, regardless of any legal duty to do so
Do You Need an Attorney for Alimony Issues in Florida?
Recent changes to the law have affected alimony in Florida. If you are facing a divorce and are seeking or being asked to pay spousal support or other alimony concerns post-divorce, you need an Orlando-Based Attorney for Alimony Issues who will build a strong case. It is imperative that the court fully understands your situation. Contact The Law Office of Erin Morse at (407) 743-6059. We take a proactive and personalized approach and develop creative plans to help you achieve the results you need.