One of the most important determinations a court must make during divorce
proceedings is the appropriate award of alimony due to a party in the
inferior financial position following a divorce. Alimony is money paid
from one former spouse to another following the dissolution of a marriage,
and the purpose is to ensure both parties enjoy a standard of living reasonably
close to that which they enjoyed during the marriage. Alimony may be paid
temporarily or permanently and by periodic payments or in a lump sum.
When determining the amount of an alimony award the court examines the
need of the party seeking alimony and the ability of the non-seeking party
to pay. The length of the marriage and the party seeking alimony's
decision to stay at home and allow the other party to attend a graduate
program or build a business are also factors the court must consider in
order to reach a fair alimony figure. Clearly the alimony needs of a wife
with an advanced degree who worked full-time during a two year marriage
will differ substantially from a wife of twenty five years who decided
to forego a career to raise children and support the husband in his professional
endeavors. The former maintains the probability of finding viable employment
and being self-sufficient following the dissolution of a short-term marriage,
while the latter presumably has not worked nor attended school in over
two decades. She will face numerous obstacles attempting to re-enter a
workforce which bears little to no resemblance to the one she left many
years ago to care for her family. In recognition of scenarios like this,
the courts have created a presumption that permanent alimony is the proper
award following the dissolution of a long-term marriage, especially in
cases where one spouse assumes the role of homemaker while the other assumes
that of the breadwinner.
For example, in the case of
Motie v. Motie, the Fifth District Court of Appeal of Florida held that trial court abused
its discretion by not awarding permanent alimony to the former wife in
the proceedings for dissolution of a 17 year marriage, where aside from
a few minor periods of employment, the former wife was essentially a homemaker
who supported the former husband as he built his veterinary practice.
Had the ruling of the trial court stood, the former wife in this case
would have received alimony for only a few years before the former husband's
obligation ended. The former wife would have then been left to struggle
to find gainful employment in a competitive job market with out-dated
skills while the former husband enjoyed the fruits of his practice; which
was built in part on the sacrifices of his former wife.
Mistakes like this happen and can be devastating to the party seeking alimony.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce and have questions regarding
alimony, child support, time sharing, or any other divorce related issue,
contact the Albaugh Law Firm to ensure your rights and future independence
are protected. Call today for a free consultation.