Am I Entitled to Alimony in Florida?
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 appropriate employment.
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, nondeductible payment.
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 circumstances.
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 Jacksonville or 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.