Alimony, which is also frequently referred to as maintenance or spousal support is payment from one ex-spouse to the other. The fundamental principal guiding an award for Florida permanent alimony is the disparity in financial resources of the two parties. However, disparity in financial resources alone is not enough to justify an award for alimony. See Segall v. Segall. Instead, Florida law looks at one spouse’s ability to pay alimony vs the other spouse’s need for Florida permanent alimony. See Canakaris v. Canakaris.
Florida family law allows for many different types of alimony, which can vary in duration, amount, and purpose. Florida courts have a lot of discretion in awarding alimony and if so, how much. The Tampa divorce attorney in an alimony case can make a big difference on the type and amount of alimony that is awarded. Therefore, it is important that you hire a divorce law firm in Tampa that is experienced in Florida alimony litigation.
Permanent Alimony in Divorce Cases
Florida permanent alimony is periodic payments of financial support paid to an ex-spouse for an indefinite duration. The purpose of Florida permanent alimony is not to divide future income. Rather it is to provide for the needs of a former spouse, as they were established during the marriage. See Mallard v. Mallard. Permanent alimony is only proper when the evidence shows a permanent inability of the ex-spouse to become self-sustaining. Further, permanent alimony is typically only awarded upon the divorce of a long-term marriage.
How Long Does a Marriage Have to Be for Florida Permanent Alimony
Florida divorce law classifies a long-term marriage as a marriage lasting longer than 17 years. However, it may also be awarded in the divorce of a moderate-term marriage (marriages lasting 7 – 17 years) if it is proven to be appropriate by clear and convincing evidence. This is a much higher standard than the burden of proof for long-term marriages. Short-term marriages (marriages lasting less than 7 years) are also eligible for permanent alimony but the recipient must prove there are exceptional circumstances and that no other form of alimony is fair or reasonable under the circumstances. See Florida alimony law 61.08.
Duration of the marriage is an important part of any Florida divorce case involving the demand for permanent alimony; however, it is not dispositive. The duration only establishes the burden of proof for the party seeking this type of alimony. The party seeking permanent alimony will still need to prove a permanent inability to become self-sustaining. Additionally, the spouse seeking alimony must establish alimony is proper under the “need and ability to pay” test. See Guiterrez v. Guiterrez.
The Legal Test for Permanent Alimony
The first part of this test is to establish there is a need for alimony. The term “need” does not mean basic living expenses such as, rent, food, and clothing. Instead, the term “need” refers to the standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage. See Griffin v. Griffin. It is important to note, “need” can include many things that most of us would consider luxuries. See Firestone v. Firestone. Once the “need” is established, the spouse will then have to prove that the other spouse has the ability to pay the alimony sought.
Modification or Termination of Alimony
Florida permanent alimony can be modified or terminated if there is an unanticipated, substantial, material, and involuntary change in the circumstances of either party, that was not contemplated for at the time the alimony was awarded. See Florida alimony law 61.14. For instance, if permanent alimony was awarded it may modified or terminated upon the death, remarriage, or if the spouse receiving alimony enters into a supportive relationship. If a modification or termination of permanent alimony is sought due to a supportive relationship, the divorce attorney seeking the change has the burden of proving the supportive relationship warrants a modification. Determining whether or not the supportive relationship is grounds for an alimony modification will depend on the specific circumstances of the case.
Tampa Alimony Law Firm
A skilled divorce lawyer in Tampa can make a big impact in a divorce involving a claim for Florida permanent alimony. If you are contemplating filing for divorce or your spouse has already filed for divorce, call us today to speak with a divorce attorney in Tampa. The divorce attorneys at Florida Law Advisers, P.A. have years of experience in both advocating for and against alimony. With years of experience in family law litigation, we are more than ready to present a compelling case on your behalf and stand firm for what is fair. If you would like to speak with a divorce attorney at our firm call us today at 800 990 7763 to schedule a free consultation.