Alimony is also called spousal support or maintenance. It is a concept that allows a spouse with superior financial resources to support a former spouse up to the point that they can support themselves. It is also meant to ensure that each spouse maintains their former life status after a divorce. Alimony may either be awarded as a lumpsum, by monthly installments, or by combining the two options. Awards for maintenance require compelling arguments that prove that a spouse requires financial support to either support their former living standards or to help them get on their feet. It is advisable to hire a divorce lawyer to help make a strong case that ends in an order for alimony. Here is some basic information about the types of alimony in Florida and the circumstances under which each of them is awarded.
According to Florida Law, spousal support is awarded under the following circumstances:
- To even the gap between a spouse with superior financial resources and one with meager financial resources
- To be rehabilitative
- To help a person become financially independent
Types of Alimony
Alimony in Florida is not the same as punitive damages. While punitive damages are meant to punish the wrong doer, alimony ensures that both parties in divorce get a fair ruling in terms of financial well being. It is a means of recognizing that one spouse has more skills and resources than the other and is much able to support themselves going forward. The court’s judgment on alimony in Florida is based on the length of the marriage.
Marriages can be classified as follows:
- Short-term – A marriage that does not last beyond seven years
- Moderate-term – A marriage that lasts for 7-17 years
- Long-term marriages – A marriage that lasts beyond seventeen years
This type of spousal support is awarded during divorce proceedings. It is also called alimony pendent lite. Temporary alimony is terminated once the court grants a divorce decree and replaced by any of the other types of alimony in Florida.
When a spouse wants to pursue vocational skills training or an education program so they can get employment and be self-sufficient, the court awards them rehabilitative alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded based on a specific plan. The court will give the order of rehabilitative spousal support by the duration of the program, associated costs, the period that spouse will be working as an apprentice, and the time required for the spouse to become self-sufficient. However, a spouse paying or receiving the alimony requests for a modification of the order on the grounds of a change in circumstances or where the receiving spouse deviates from the plan. Unlike other alimony awards, rehabilitative alimony in Florida does not end with the death of the receiving or paying a spouse or when the receiving spouse remarries.
In cases involving short or moderate-term marriages, the court may order for durational spousal support. This type of alimony in Florida comes as a fixed amount spanning over a set period that does not exceed the duration of the marriage. For example, if the couple seeking divorce lived together for two years, the durational alimony should not exceed two years. However, if there is a significant change in circumstances, the court may allow for a modification of the award. The modification only applies to the amount of alimony and not the duration of the award. Durational alimony in Florida ends when either the receiving or paying spouse dies or if the receiving spouse marries someone else.
This award helps the spouse move from being married to living as a single person. It helps allocate the funds that cater to identifiable and foreseeable bills that help one start a new life without a spouse. Bridge-the-gap alimony in Florida ends when either the paying or receiving spouse dies or if the spouse receiving remarries.
This type of alimony in Florida is given for moderate and long-term marriages. However, under special circumstances, it may be awarded for short term marriages. Permanent spousal support will be granted if a spouse cannot achieve the living standards of the marriage in terms of basic needs or life necessities. Before granting permanent alimony, the court will consider the life of the couple during the marriage. A person who is used to a lavish lifestyle will be awarded spousal support that helps them live up to a similar lifestyle after they get divorced. The court may modify permanent spousal support if there is a change in circumstances or where the receiving spouse gets into a relationship where they are receiving support from someone other than a relative. Like many of the other types of alimony in Florida, permanent alimony ends when either the paying or receiving spouse dies or if the receiving spouse remarries.
Factors Affecting Alimony Awards
The court usually frowns upon adultery and will review the circumstances leading to adultery when awarding alimony in Florida. Therefore, for spouses who have committed adultery, there is the need to hire an experienced divorce lawyer to improve the chances of getting an award for alimony. Generally, the court usually considers the following financial matters before granting alimony. This includes:
- The duration of the marriage
- The living standards that the couple enjoyed during their marriage
- The age of both the receiving and paying spouse and any emotional or physical impairments that may affect their economic needs and ability to make a living
- The marital and non-marital assets of both parties and the debts incurred during the marriage
- The need for career training or education for any of the spouses to get employment and be in a position to support themselves
- The contributions that each spouse made during the marriage including; child care, homemaking, salary, financial contributions, supporting a spouse in their education bills, or assisting a spouse in building a business or pursue a career
The Importance of Hiring a Divorce Lawyer
There is no telling how a divorce case will turn out. In most cases, the terms of a divorce will usually favor one party. This is the case if one spouse is found guilty of adultery or where one spouse has superior financial resources. Most people hire a divorce lawyer to improve their chances of a fair ruling after a divorce. A divorce lawyer is involved in much more than litigation and will ensure his/her client gets a fair ruling on alimony. Some of the roles played by a divorce lawyer include:
- Submitting the divorce case in court
- Serving spouses with divorce papers
- Reviewing the facts of the case and building a strong case for clients
- Pushing for a suitable alimony award
- Negotiating in settlements before a case goes to trial
- Representing the client in court and pushing for fair terms of divorce including alimony and child support
The outcome of a divorce case, including the terms of the divorce such as alimony, is dependent on each spouse’s legal representation. It is the job of the divorce lawyer to build a strong case that justifies the award for alimony among other conditions.
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