Attorneys at Alspector Family Law will help you understand Alimony
Alimony, some times referred to as spousal support, may be implicated in a divorce case. In the State of Florida, the amount and length of alimony is determined at the discretion of the Judge, after receiving evidence regarding the parties’ financial and other relevant circumstances. There is no formula or calculation to determine alimony. Instead, a Judge will consider evidence concerning a set a factors set forth in Florida Statutes, §61.08. The two most prevalent factors in divorce cases which dictate any alimony award are the length of the marriage, usually coupled with a substantial disparity in the income of the parties. The length of time of an alimony award and the amount to be paid is largely dependent on the present and anticipated future economic circumstances of each spouse.
Types of Alimony
Alimony may be of a short-term nature, for example, up to two years, which is known as “bridge-the-gap alimony.” The purpose of bridge-the-gap alimony is to enable the recipient spouse to bridge the financial gap from married life to single life.
When the length of the marriage exceeds seven years, but cannot be characterized as a long-term marriage, a spouse may be entitled to receive, or may be required to pay, “durational alimony,” which is alimony of a certain amount, usually paid monthly, for a determined period of years not to exceed the number of years of the marriage itself. Under certain circumstances, durational alimony is modifiable.
When couples have been married over seventeen years, they are characterized as having a long-term marriage, under which “permanent alimony” may be implicated. Permanent alimony is usually a set payment of a certain amount paid monthly. Unless later modified, permanent alimony is paid for the duration of the life of the recipient spouse.
Another type of alimony, “lump-sum alimony,” is awarded in limited circumstances, some times together with an award of another form of alimony, or when another form of alimony is not appropriate. For example, a spouse may receive the marital residence as an award of lump-sum alimony, which essentially transfers the other spouse’s equity in the residence to the recipient spouse. This may occur where the recipient spouse may not have a financial need for the cash income that another form of alimony provides since he or she is fully self-supporting, but the disparity in the incomes or other assets each party is retaining makes a lump-sum alimony award equitable under the particular circumstances.
“Rehabilitative alimony” may be paid to a spouse who requires additional education or employment skills in order to become self-supporting or closer to self-support. For example, if a spouse began college during the marriage, but quit to stay at home to care for young children, that spouse may require rehabilitative alimony in order to complete his or her degree. Rehabilitative alimony is typically paid over a certain period of months or years, which is largely dependent upon the time necessary for the recipient spouse to complete his or her studies and obtain the necessary skills for employment offering more than minimum-wage pay. Just as with durational and permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony is subject to modification.
Finally, “temporary alimony” may be sought during the pendency of the divorce case in order to maintain the status quo in the payment of expenses or otherwise ensure that a spouse’s financial needs are being met while the case moves forward toward trial or amicable resolution.
Most spouses with the superior income in the family fear exposure to an alimony award. At Alspector Family Law, we remove fear and uncertainty from the process by helping you to understand your finances and economic realities you may be faced with. We feel that a client armed with knowledge and financial awareness can make the appropriate decisions and assess options regarding receipt or payment of alimony.
In recent years, attempts have been undertaken to dramatically change the alimony laws. There exists a prevailing view that alimony awards will become scarcer. It appears that it is only a matter of time before alimony is overhauled. If you are contemplating divorce, we urge you set up a consultation with our office to determine how anticipated changes in the law regarding alimony could affect your future.