Alimony is one of the most highly contested issues in a divorce. Every alimony case is different. In Florida, a family judge has a great deal of discretion in evaluating the factors necessary to determine if alimony should be awarded, and if so, the duration and amount of the payments.
Brief Overview of the Alimony Law in Florida
The law in Florida imposes upon spouses a mutual obligation to support each other. Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is the mechanism used by the Florida courts to level the playing field by providing the impecunious spouse with the means to support herself or himself in a standard similar to that which was established during the marriage. When determining if alimony should be awarded, the family judge must weigh the needs of the spouse requesting alimony versus the other spouse’s ability to pay. The type of alimony that may be awarded in a case will depend on the length of the marriage and other fact specific factors that must be considered by the family judge. Marriages in Florida are classified as Short-Term (a marriage that lasted less than seven (7) years); Moderate (a marriage that lasted seven (7) or more years, but fewer than seventeen (17) years); or Long-Term (a marriage that lasted seventeen (17) or more years). Typically, a family judge may award one or more of the five (5) different types of alimony available as per Florida Statute Section 61.08, which are as follows:
- Temporary Alimony: This type of alimony is temporary in nature and may be awarded while the divorce is pending regardless of the length of the marriage or the existence of a prenuptial agreement. Because a duty of support exists while the parties are still legally married, it is against public policy and the laws of the state of Florida for a spouse to waive his or her right to receive temporary support in a prenuptial agreement. Said waiver is unenforceable and a family judge may order temporary support if there is an established need and ability to pay. The temporary support obligation will end upon entry of the final judgment dissolving the marriage.
- Bridge-The-Gap Alimony: The purpose of bridge-the-gap alimony is to help the recipient spouse meet short term legitimate and identifiable needs and the duration of the payments cannot exceed two (2) years. This type of alimony is more likely to be awarded in a short-term marriage.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of alimony is usually available to a spouse that needs assistance to regain the skills necessary to obtain employment. The spouse requesting rehabilitative alimony must present a specific plan setting forth in detail his or her goals, the amount of money and time required to complete the plan. Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded in conjunction with another form of alimony, and in some circumstances, the duration of the payments may extended.
- Durational Alimony: A family judge may award durational alimony if other types of alimony are insufficient to meet the needs of the spouse requesting alimony. The maximum term of durational alimony is the length of the marriage. This type of alimony is usually available in a moderate term marriage. The amount of the payments may be modified, but the duration of the payments cannot be extended.
- Permanent Alimony: The purpose of permanent alimony is to provide for the financial needs of a spouse who is incapable of becoming self-supporting in a standard of living similar to that which was established during the marriage. With very few exceptions, this type of alimony is only available in a long-term marriage. Permanent alimony is subject to modification and will end upon the death of either spouse or remarriage of the recipient spouse.
ABN Law Group – Your Alimony Attorneys in Miami-Dade and Broward
If you are seeking alimony, trying to prevent being ordered to pay alimony, or attempting to enforce, modify, or eliminate your alimony obligation, you need a team of experienced attorneys and professionals on your side. The attorneys at ABN Law Group have vast experience in handling alimony cases in Florida and often work with accountants and other professionals to present a compelling case to the family judge. Call us today to schedule a consultation to evaluate your case. We are here to help you!