Permanent Alimony: Florida Divorce/Family Law


Alimony, which is also frequently referred to as maintenance or spousal support, is payment from one ex-spouse to the other. The fundamental principle guiding an award for Florida permanent alimony is the disparity in the financial resources of the two parties. However, the disparity in financial resources alone is not enough to justify an alimony award. 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’s 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 in the type and amount of alimony that is awarded. Therefore, you must hire a divorce law firm in Tampa that is experienced in Florida alimony litigation.

How Alimony in Florida is Determined

The amount and duration of alimony will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The court will first determine if there is a need for alimony by one party. Secondly, the judge will consider if the other party can pay alimony. Once that is determined, then the court must weigh the factors outlined in Florida divorce law 61.08. The statute also provides that all other relevant factors can be considered when determining the amount and duration of alimony. Therefore, the judge can also consider evidence not listed explicitly in the Statute. Also, an award of alimony may not leave the payor with significantly less net income than the income of the recipient, unless there are exceptional circumstances found by the court.

What is Florida Permanent Alimony?

Florida permanent alimony is periodic payments of financial support paid to an ex-spouse for an indefinite duration. The purpose of Florida’s permanent alimony law is not to divide future income. Instead, 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.

Permanent alimony in Florida is appropriate when a party in the marriage cannot meet their needs and necessities of life following a divorce. The needs and necessities of life of that party are determined by the standard of living during the marriage. Therefore, the employment history, income, and expenses of each party will be significant factors in a Florida alimony case.

Alimony may be paid as a lump sum, periodic payments, or both. Although adultery is not considered in determining if a divorce should be granted, the court may consider adultery when deciding alimony.

Florida Divorce Law Requirement for Permanent Alimony

Florida applies a two-part test to determine alimony, the need & ability test. The first part of the test is to establish if 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 can pay the alimony sought.

How Long Does a Marriage Have To Last for Florida Permanent Alimony?

An award of permanent alimony is typically awarded after a marriage of long duration. A marriage of long duration is a rebuttable presumption of a minimum of seventeen (17) years. This is the presumed number, but the court can determine this to be inappropriate, given certain circumstances. The length of the marriage is the period starting from the date of the marriage until the date of the filing of an action for dissolution of marriage (divorce).

An award of permanent alimony can be awarded after a marriage of moderate duration if such factors from Florida Statute 61.08 are considered, and an award is determined to be appropriate based on clear and convincing evidence. The rebuttable presumption of a moderate duration marriage is between seven (7) and seventeen (17) years. Short-term marriages (marriages lasting less than seven 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

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. For instance, alimony may be modified upon remarriage or entering into a supportive relationship. Additionally, alimony automatically terminates upon detain.

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 the supportive relationship is grounds for an alimony modification will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. Therefore, you should seek the counsel of a Tampa divorce attorney.

Consult a 5-Star Tampa Alimony Law Firm Today

A skilled divorce lawyer in Tampa can make a significant 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 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no minimum amount of time you must be married in order to receive alimony. However, the length of the marriage will be a factor in determining whether alimony will be awarded, and if so, for how long.

The amount of alimony depends on the specific details of each individual case. There is no mathematical formula to determine the amount of alimony in Florida. Instead, it will be based on an amount necessary to maintain the standard of living you became accustomed to during the marriage.

There is no minimum amount of time you must be married in order to receive alimony. However, permanent alimony is generally reserved for a marriage lasting 17 years or longer.

Florida divorce law does allow for the opportunity to receive alimony. The law applies a two-part test to determine if alimony is appropriate. First, you must prove you have a need for alimony. Secondly, you must show the other party has the ability to pay.

Most often, permanent alimony is only available for marriages that have lasted at least 17 years. This type of alimony is intended to provide for the needs and necessities of a spouse who lacks the financial ability to be self-sustaining.

At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we are committed to solving your divorce, bankruptcy, and immigration matters. We are a full-service law firm serving clients in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Orlando, and throughout Central Florida.