Alimony by definition is money that one spouse pays to the other for support during the divorce process or for some period of time following a final divorce.
There are five different types of alimony awarded in the state of Florida and hiring an attorney with exceptional experience is critical in maintaining the lifestyle afforded to you prior to your divorce. The law office of Eve McClurg is by your side to guide you during this emotional time and to protect your lifestyle when emotions could enter into this very critical equation.
Types of Alimony Available in Florida
Florida law provides for five different types of alimony: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent. A judge may award these different types of alimony in any combination that seems fair under the circumstances. Alimony can consist of periodic payments from one spouse to the other, or less commonly, a single lump-sum payment. Spouses can always agree between themselves on different terms and conditions of alimony, including giving up alimony enirely, usually in exchange for some other valuable type of property.
Courts often award temporary alimony—also known as alimony “pendente lite“, meaning while the divorce is pending, when one spouse requires financial support during the divorce process. This type of award automatically ends once the divorce becomes final.
Bridge-the-gap alimony begins after the divorce is final but is very short term, with a maximum duration of two years. The purpose is to help the recipient spouse meet legitimate and identifiable short term needs—for example, bridge-the-gap alimony might provide living expenses while the recipient spouse is waiting for a house to sell, or while the recipient spouse is completing a retraining or educational program to allow for improved employment prospects.
Rehabilitative alimony has the specific purpose of assisting the recipient in acquiring education or training necessary for appropriate employment. A spouse requesting rehabilitative alimony must submit a plan outlining the amount of money and time required to complete the plan.
A court might award durational alimony if other types of alimony are insufficient to meet a spouse’s needs. The maximum term of durational alimony is the length of the marriage–in other words, if you were married for ten years, you can’t receive durational alimony for any longer than that.
If the recipient spouse’s economic need is likely to be permanent, an alimony award may be permanent as well–but a judge awarding permanent alimony must always state the reasons that another form of alimony would not be fair and reasonable under the facts of the case. The purpose of permanent alimony is to provide for the financial needs of a spouse who lacks the ability to become self-supporting, at a standard of living as close as possible to the marital standard.
Factors in Need and Ability to Pay
The court begins making decisions on a request for alimony by considering the facts of the case to determine whether the spouse requesting alimony meets the standard to show the alimony is necessary. If there’s a need for alimony, the court has to also determinate whether the other spouse has the ability to pay. Unless there are some kind of exceptional circumstances, a court won’t award alimony if it would leave the paying spouse with significantly less net income than the recipient.
A judge who finds both need and ability to pay next must consider all relevant factors in deciding what type of alimony to award and for how long. Florida law says that these factors include: