Alimony in Florida: an Overview
January 31, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In divorce or dissolution of marriage proceedings in Florida in which a request for alimony/spousal support is made, the courts are required to makes a factual determination as to whether either party actually needs alimony and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony. If the court finds the need for and ability to pay alimony exists, it will consider "all relevant factors" to determine the proper type and amount of alimony.

Factors relevant to alimony awards in Florida

Florida's alimony statute (West's F.S.A. Section 61.08) instructs courts to consider "all relevant factors" when determining the appropriate form and amount of alimony and provides a nonexhaustive list of relevant factors:
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and physical/emotional condition of each party
- The financial resources of each party, including assets and liabilities to which each party is entitled under the property settlement
- The earning capacities, levels of education, vocational skills and employability of each party and the time necessary for either party to obtain necessary education or training to obtain appropriate employment
- The contributions each spouse made to the marriage such as homemaking services, child care, education and career building of the other party
- The amount of child support and other responsibilities each party will have with respect to minor children, if any
- The tax treatment and consequences of any alimony award to either party
- All sources of income available to either party, including income produced by investments held by a party
- Any other factor deemed necessary to do "equity and justice" between the spouses

The court is also allowed to consider the adultery of either party when deciding whether and to what extent alimony should be awarded.

Forms of alimony in Florida

In Florida, there are four types of alimony: bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony and permanent alimony. An alimony award can include a single form of alimony or any combination thereof and require periodic payments, a lump sum payment or both. If the circumstances warrant it, the court can make safe the source of alimony payments by requiring the party obligated to pay alimony to create a security interest in certain assets or to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony is awarded to support a party's "legitimate short-term needs" as he or she transitions from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is not to exceed two years in duration and terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving the alimony. Bridge-the-gap alimony awards cannot be modified in either amount or duration.
- Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity to be self-supporting. The award of rehabilitative alimony is contingent on a "specific and defined" rehabilitation plan to either redevelop previous skills or credentials or develop new employment skills or credentials through education, training or experience. The rehabilitation plan will be included in the rehabilitative alimony order. Rehabilitative alimony awards may be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances or if the recipient does not comply with the rehabilitation plan. Rehabilitative alimony terminates upon the completion of the rehabilitation plan.
- Durational alimony is awarded when permanent alimony is considered inappropriate, either because the marriage was for a short- or moderate-term or because there is no ongoing need for permanent alimony following the dissolution of a long-term marriage. In Florida, a marriage of less than seven years is presumed to be a short-term marriage, a marriage of more than seven years but less than 17 years is presumed to be a moderate-term marriage and a marriage of 17 years or more is presumed to be a long-term marriage. The length of durational alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage. The amount of durational alimony can be modified or terminated if there is a substantial changes in circumstances, and the length may be modified for "exceptional" circumstances. Durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party.
- Permanent alimony is awarded to provide for the "needs and necessities of life" established during the marriage. Permanent alimony is only awarded if no other type of alimony is "fair and reasonable" under the circumstances. Permanent alimony is typically appropriate following the dissolution of a long-term marriage; however, permanent alimony following the dissolution of short- or moderate-term marriages may be awarded in very limited, exceptional circumstances. Permanent alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or if the party receiving alimony enters into a marriage-like supportive relationship with another person. Permanent alimony also terminates upon the death or either party or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony.

Seek legal assistance

Your choice of attorney to represent your interests during your divorce or other family law matter could mean the difference between successful negotiations or expensive, ongoing litigation. A divorce lawyer in your area can provide a clear explanation of your legal rights and options.

Article provided by Brodie & Friedman, P.A.
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