Alimony, also known as “spousal support”, is payment from one spouse to another spouse after they have decided to dissolve their marriage. Alimony payments provide financial assistance to ex-spouses who were financially dependent during the marriage. Alimony is intended to ease the transition to single life and help maintain an acceptable standard of living for spouses who were financially dependent on their ex-spouse. Florida family law courts have a lot of discretion over this process, including whether or not alimony will be awarded, for how long payments will continue, and the amount of support that will be paid.
Under Florida divorce law, a court is not required to award or deny alimony payments under any particular set of facts or circumstances. However, a court will be required to consider all relevant factors in determining if alimony should be paid and, if so, how much. The following list is an example of the factors a court may consider in determining an alimony award:
- Length of the marriage
- Age and physical condition of each spouse
- Financial resources of each spouse
- Standard of living to which each spouse has become accustomed
- Occupation, education, and current income of each spouse
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including homemaking, childcare, education, and career building of the other party
- Responsibilities of each spouse to any minor children
If alimony is awarded, the alimony payments should be an amount that is sufficient to provide reasonable maintenance of living standards to the ex-spouse. The court will often consider the cost of food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and other household expenses of the ex-spouse when determining sufficient alimony.
Types of Alimony Available
Under Florida divorce law, several types of alimony may be awarded, such as:
- Suit Alimony (pendente lite) – alimony that is paid while the court has not yet settled the divorce. This is intended to provide temporary financial relief to a spouse while the divorce is pending.
- Durational Alimony – economic assistance for a set period of time. The duration of the alimony payments may not last any longer than the duration of the marriage. For instance, if a marriage lasted only 2 years, the durational alimony payments may not exceed 2 years. Durational alimony is typically reserved for marriages lasting less than 17 years.
- Rehabilitative Alimony – alimony that is awarded to a spouse who has stopped working due to the marriage, and needs support for a period of time until they can reestablish their career. This type of alimony requires the recipient to provide the court with a specific and defined rehabilitative plan for their career.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – is intended to assist spouses with a legitimate, identifiable short-term need while transitioning from marriage to being single. The length of the alimony payments may not exceed 2 years.
- Permanent Alimony – is payment to help a spouse maintain the standard of living they have become accustomed to during the marriage. This type of alimony will provide for the needs and necessities of a spouse who lacks the financial ability to be self-sustaining. Most often, permanent alimony is only available for marriages that have lasted for at least 17 years.
Help With Structuring Your Alimony Settlement
Florida divorce law has no concrete guidelines that courts must follow when determining alimony payments. The skill and experience of the attorney you hire in your divorce proceedings can significantly impact the court’s decision to award spousal support. Without competent legal counsel, you could be required by the court to pay more alimony than you should or, conversely, not receive the full amount of alimony payments to which you are entitled.
The attorneys at Florida Law Advisers, P.A., are experienced in all types of alimony and thoroughly understand the law. Whether it has been requested that you pay alimony or you need to receive alimony for financial support, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a Tampa divorce attorney at our family law firm.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
It 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. However, the length of the marriage will be a factor in determining whether alimony will be awarded, and if so, for how long.