What Is Temporary Alimony in Florida?
Divorcing couples may separate physically and financially before a divorce becomes final. They may live in separate residences and cease sharing income and pooling resources long before the marriage is officially dissolved. This can create a financial crisis for a lower-earning or dependent spouse. Temporary alimony is designed to provide support while divorce proceedings are in progress and to terminate once a divorce decree has been entered. Payments are made by one spouse to the other to maintain a certain standard of living until the divorce is finalized.
What Are the Requirements for Receiving Temporary Alimony in Orlando?
Under Florida divorce law, the court may grant alimony to either party when it is deemed appropriate. In deciding whether to award alimony, the judge must factually determine whether either party to the divorce has an actual need for support and whether either party could pay. A person seeking temporary alimony must demonstrate their actual financial need to the court. Once that need has been established, the court may only award temporary alimony if it does not deprive the other spouse of the ability to support himself or herself.
A temporary alimony award may depend largely on the standard of living established during the marriage. Its purpose is to provide support and financial stability to a spouse who may lack the means for self-support. The amount of support will depend on several factors, including:
- Duration of the marriage
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- Financial needs of the dependent spouse
What Are the Options for Spousal Support After Temporary Alimony Terminates?
Senate Bill (SB) 1416 was signed into law by the Governor on June 30, 2023. This new legislation made radical changes to Florida law regarding dissolution of marriage. Among other things, it:
- Gave the courts authorization to consider adultery in determining the amount of alimony.
- Placed a burden of proof on the party seeking spousal support.
- Required the courts to terminate or reduce alimony under certain circumstances, such as when the party receiving alimony is in a “supportive relationship” and
- Authorized the courts to reduce or terminate spousal support upon retirement of the party making payments.
The new law also eliminates the option for courts to award permanent alimony. As of July 1, 2023, family court judges may award only four types of alimony:
- Temporary alimony, designed to provide support to a lower-earning or dependent spouse during divorce proceedings until the marriage is dissolved.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony, which is short-term spousal support, limited to a maximum of two years.
- Rehabilitative alimony, which is limited to five years and designed to help a dependent spouse become self-supportive and
- Durational alimony is the only longer-term spousal support now available, with pre-defined limits based on the length of the marriage.
What Are the Time Limits for Longer-Term Spousal Support in Florida?
The length of the marriage is a major factor in spousal support matters. It can play a significant role in the court’s decision as to whether alimony should be awarded and how much it should be. When durational alimony is awarded, the length of the marriage determines how long spousal support payments can continue. Florida has established three categories for length of marriage:
- Short-term marriage: This is a marriage that has lasted for less than ten years. The cap on durational alimony for a short-term marriage is 50% of the length of the marriage.
- Moderate-term marriage: A marriage that lasts for more than ten and less than 20 years falls into the moderate-term category. Durational alimony is capped at 60% of the length of the marriage.
- Long-term marriage: Any marriage that has lasted for more than 20 years is considered long-term. In this category, the cap on durational alimony is 75% of the length of the marriage.
For example, if durational alimony is awarded when a couple that was married for eight years divorces, spousal support payments would continue for no more than four years. On the other hand, upon the dissolution of a 30-year marriage, alimony may be awarded for up to 22.5 years.
Can an Alimony Award Change with Changes in Circumstances?
Circumstances in life can change, and those changes can affect spousal support. Temporary alimony automatically terminates once a divorce is finalized. Spousal support automatically terminates upon the remarriage of the party receiving payments or the death of either party. Alimony may also be reduced or terminated if the financial circumstances of the recipient improve or if he or she is in a “supportive relationship,” which involves cohabiting with another partner. Under the new law, the court is required to reduce or terminate an alimony award if it finds that a supportive relationship exists. The burden is on the party making alimony payments to prove the existence of a “supportive relationship” by a preponderance of the evidence.
Do You Need an Alimony Lawyer for a Divorce in Orlando?
If you are facing divorce and need financial support or want to reduce your alimony payments, your best chance of obtaining the most favorable outcome is to have legal assistance for alimony in Orlando. Spousal support is a complex issue in Florida. At The Law Office of Erin Morse, we have the experience and skills to build a persuasive case and ensure the court understands the entire situation. Contact us for dedicated advocacy in alimony matters at (407) 743-6059.