Alimony helps to provide financial assistance to the lower-earning spouse following a
divorce. In Florida, eligibility for alimony is essentially based on three core
factors: whether the marriage was legal (since common law marriage isn’t
recognized under Florida state law), the requesting spouse’s need
for financial assistance, and the ability for the higher-earning spouse
to pay. The latter of the three is commonly referred to as "need
and ability to pay."
Which factors determine how much alimony I will receive?
Once “need and ability to pay” is established, the court will
review specific criteria, including but not limited to:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
- The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and the
marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability
of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party
to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited
to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career
building of the other party.
- The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children
they have in common.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award,
including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable,
- All sources of income available to either party, including income available
to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
For a complete list of the factors considered when awarding alimony, please refer to
Florida Statute § 61.08.
Length of marriage and alimony
In addition, for purposes of determining
alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage
having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a
marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years,
and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or
greater. The length of a marriage is typically calculated as the period
of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action
for dissolution of marriage.
What types of alimony are available in Florida?
With respect to the amount of alimony awarded, the amount may not leave
the payor with significantly less net income than the net income of the
recipient unless there are written findings of exceptional circumstances.
This is typically the biggest concern for the payor spouse and one of
the most common aspects of
family law court orders that get appealed.
Permanent Alimony – Permanent alimony is when one spouse is required to make regular (usually
monthly) payments to the other spouse. The paying party must continue
to make payments, until either party dies, or the recipient ex-spouse
remarries. Permanent alimony is largely based on the disparity of incomes,
and the total duration of the marriage. Permanent alimony may be awarded
following a marriage of long duration if such an award is appropriate
upon consideration of the factors above, following a marriage of moderate
duration if such an award is appropriate based upon clear and convincing
evidence after consideration of the factors set forth above, or following
a marriage of short duration if there are written findings of exceptional
Temporary Alimony – Temporary alimony is sometimes awarded by the court while divorce
proceedings are still pending, in order to provide spousal support during
the divorce process. Temporary alimony will end once the divorce is finalized.
Lump sum alimony in Florida - Lump sum alimony is when alimony is paid in full with a one-time-payment
in the form of money and/or property. Unlike permanent alimony, lump sum
alimony agreements cannot be modified or terminated. Keep in mind that
all alimony received is considered taxable income. The paying ex-spouse
can usually deduct a portion, if not all, of their lump sum payment on
their taxes. Conversely, the ex-spouse receiving the lump sum alimony
is required to report to payment as income on their taxes.
Bridge-The-Gap Alimony - Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to provide financial stability for
the lower-earning ex-spouse to help ease the transition from being married
to being single. Unlike permanent alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony is provided
on a short term basis with a maximum length of two years. It’s primarily
used to help fulfill short-term needs, such as, paying for educational
or vocational training so that the ex-spouse can seek out employment opportunities.
Rehabilitative Alimony - Rehabilitative alimony is similar to bridge-the-gap alimony because
it is meant to provide financial assistance to the lower-earning ex-spouse
while the ex-spouse is in school or training for adequate employment.
With rehabilitative alimony, the court will require a plan to be in place
that outlines how much money will be required, and length of time needed
to complete the training.
Durational Alimony – Durational alimony limits the duration of alimony to the total
duration of the marriage, and is typically awarded when the court decides
that permanent alimony is not appropriate. If a couple is married for
15 years, then the longest term for durational alimony would be 15 years.
The determination of alimony is a serious and life changing event in most
divorces. Having an experienced
St Augustine Family Law Lawyer on your side is essential. Contact one of
our experienced alimony attorneys today. From our offices in St Augustine and Jacksonville we serve all of Florida's
First Coast including St Johns, Duval, Flagler, Clay and Putnam counties.