Alimony is financial support paid to an ex-spouse to help maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. There are many different types of alimony in Florida, which vary in amount, form, and duration. The policy behind alimony is to alleviate the financial disparity between the two parties. When determining if alimony should be awarded, Florida family law courts look at one spouse’s ability to pay alimony vs. the other spouse’s need for alimony.
Florida’s judges have a lot of discretion in awarding alimony, and if so, how much. There are no specific percentages of income or mathematical formulas in Florida alimony statutes. The Tampa divorce attorney in an alimony case can make a big difference in the type and amount of alimony that is awarded. Therefore, it is essential that you hire a divorce law firm in Tampa experienced in Florida alimony litigation.
Two easily confused types of alimony are Bridge-the-Gap and Rehabilitative alimony. Bridge-the-Gap alimony is designed to help a person transition to become a head-of-household. On the other hand, rehabilitative alimony is to financially support a specific plan to obtain financial independence.
What is Florida Rehabilitative Alimony?
Florida Rehabilitative alimony is one of the many types of alimony that can be awarded in a divorce. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to provide financial support to a spouse until they are financially self-sufficient. Rehabilitative alimony requires a specific plan that will provide for financial independence upon completion of the plan. See Florida alimony case Hill v. Hooten. Often, rehabilitative alimony plans will provide for the party to attend college to increase the likelihood of employment. A Florida family law judge must approve of the plan before the award of alimony can be granted.
The rehabilitative alimony plan can be based on the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials. Alternatively, the acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills can be a basis as well. The end goal for the rehabilitative plan should be an increase in knowledge or skills so that the party can support themselves.
The Policy of Rehabilitative Alimony in Florida
The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to help a spouse who served in a supportive role to learn new skills to live a fruitful life independently. See Florida divorce case Canakaris v. Canakaris. Some common examples of rehabilitative spousal support are attending college, trade school, or assistance with obtaining a professional license. To receive this form of alimony, you must have a specific plan and intent to execute that plan.
It is important to remember that alimony and child support are different. Child support payments are to provide financial support for the necessities of the children. On the other hand, alimony is financial support for an ex-spouse. Alimony is intended to provide the former spouse with financial means to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.
How To Receive Rehabilitative Alimony in Florida
Rehabilitative alimony in Florida is financial support intended to provide a former spouse with the opportunity to establish the capacity for self-support, proportionate to the standard of living during the marriage. See Florida Statute 61.08. The length of the marriage will play a factor in alimony cases, but it is not dispositive. Instead, the focus should be on the impact the marriage had on the earning potential of the spouse seeking alimony. For instance, if the party seeking alimony after a 5-year marriage abandoned their career to take care of the couple’s children, rehabilitative alimony may be appropriate.
The length of the marriage will play a factor in rehabilitative alimony cases, but is not the only significant factor. Typically, the impact of the marriage on the spouse’s career will likely be the driving force. Conversely, if a party seeks rehabilitative alimony after a 10-year marriage but cannot provide evidence that the marriage hindered their earning capacity, rehabilitative alimony should not be awarded.
Rehabilitative alimony in Florida should only be awarded to spouses who genuinely need it. If there was no decline in earning potential due to the marriage, alimony should not be awarded. See Ritter v. Kiezkowski. Further, if the spouse cannot show that the rehabilitative alimony will permit economic self-sufficiency, it should not be granted. The party seeking rehabilitative alimony must provide a definite, detailed rehabilitation plan. See Cogen v. Cogen. Further, the plan must be feasible and not tentative.
The Legal Test for Alimony in Florida
When determining if rehabilitative alimony in Florida divorce cases is appropriate, a judge will apply the “need and ability to pay” test. See Guiterrez v. Guiterrez. First, the party seeking rehabilitative alimony will have to establish there is a need for rehabilitative alimony. Under Florida divorce law, “need” does not mean basic living expenses such as rent, food, and clothing. Instead, the term “need” refers to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. See Griffin v. Griffin. The standard of living is based primarily on expenditures, not income. However, if a couple lives beyond their financial means, only the expenditures that could have been funded from the income will be included in the standard of living estimation.
Modifying Florida Rehabilitative Alimony
Florida rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances. Additionally, modification can occur upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or once the rehabilitative plan is completed. What is considered a “substantial change in circumstances” is determined based on the facts and circumstances of each case. For an example of a qualifying substantial change in circumstances, see Antepenko v. Antepenko.
Rehabilitative alimony can be modified or terminated based on the fulfillment, or lack of fulfillment, of the rehabilitative plan. For example, if the rehabilitative plan was to attend cosmetology school and the recipient drops out, rehabilitative alimony may be terminated. Conversely, if one determined that cosmetology school was not for him or her, the rehabilitative plan could be revisited (with the assistance of a divorce law firm ideally), so that a new plan can be established or modified.
Consult a 5-Star Divorce Law Firm in Tampa
Rehabilitative alimony is a complicated topic, and there are many types of alimony in the state of Florida. You should speak with an experienced divorce attorney in Tampa to ensure that you are receiving or paying the right type and amount of alimony. If you are contemplating filing for divorce or your spouse has already filed for divorce, call us to speak with a Tampa divorce attorney.
Our divorce lawyers in Tampa are skilled litigators with experience in all types of divorce matters, including Florida rehabilitative alimony. Our years of experience allow us to cater our services to each client’s specific needs. Whether a couple mutually agrees to the terms of a divorce or are engaged in a fierce battle for their property and child custody rights, Florida Law Advisers, P.A., can help. Call us today at (800) 990-7763 to schedule your free initial consultation with a divorce attorney in Tampa.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, a spouse may be required to pay alimony in Florida without filing for divorce. Spouses have a legal duty to provide financial support to each other. Moreover, there is no requirement that the party to pay alimony to be at fault for the separation.
The amount of alimony in Florida depends on the specific details of each individual case. There is no mathematical formula to determine the amount of alimony. 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 in Florida. However, the length of the marriage will be a factor in determining whether alimony will be awarded, and if so, for how long.
Rehabilitative alimony is intended to provide financial support to a spouse until they are financially self-sufficient. Rehabilitative alimony requires a specific plan that will provide for financial independence upon completion of the plan.
The length of the marriage will play a factor, but it is not dispositive. Instead, the focus should be on the impact the marriage had on the earning potential of the spouse seeking alimony. If there was no decline in earning potential due to the marriage alimony may not be granted.
Florida rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances. Additionally, modification can occur upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or once the rehabilitative plan is completed.
If your ex has stopped paying alimony without court approval you may have grounds to file a motion for contempt. If the motion is granted, the court will require the alimony to be paid. Additionally, they can impose penalties against the party who failed to pay.
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.