Alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, is governed by a statute in Florida. The award of alimony, if any, is a consideration when considering the equitable division of property. A judge must analyze numerous factors to determine whether an award of alimony is appropriate, as well as the amount and duration of the maintenance. Alimony is an issue in high net worth divorces when one spouse is employed and the other stays at home and cares for the children or works in a job that is not as well compensated as the other spouse.
Alimony may be awarded to either spouse by the court. Florida recognizes four categories of alimony: “bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent. The judge can order the alimony in a lump sum payment or installments for a specified period. The statute includes a punitive clause in that the judge may consider whether one spouse committed adultery and the circumstances of the spouse’s infidelity in determining an alimony award.
In additional to adultery, the court must take into account ten factors, enumerated in the statute, to determine whether the judge will award alimony. An alimony award is not automatic. The judge must also examine these factors when denying a request for maintenance as well. At the outset, the court must find that the spouse seeking alimony has a need for alimony and whether the other spouse has the financial ability to pay alimony. If the judge determines the individual facts of the case require an alimony award then the judge examines the following factors in determining the amount of alimony:
- The standard of living established by the couple while they were married;
- The length of the marriage, as determined from the wedding day until the day the petition for divorce was filed;
- The age of the parties and the physical and emotional condition of the parties;
- The financial status of the parties including marital and nonmarital assets, as well as the liabilities after the division of marital property;
- The earning capacity of the individuals including whether one spouse requires additional education or training, and the time necessary to acquire such additional training or education or suitable employment;
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage including contributions made to raising the couple’s children, contributing the education or career achievement of the other spouse;
- The responsibilities each party will have relative to the minor children born of the couple;
- The income tax treatment of an alimony award;
- The sources of income available to either party, including from assets held by the couple; and
- Any other factor or factors a judge deems relevant.
A primary consideration of the judge when determining alimony is the duration of the marriage. A short-term marriage is less than seven years. A moderate-term marriage is between 7 and 17 years, and a long-term marriage is any union lasting longer than 17 years. The length of the marriage is of vital importance in terms of alimony. For example, the dissolution a short-term or moderate-term marriage may require an award of durational alimony. Durational alimony cannot last longer than the marriage lasted and ends upon the death of either party or remarriage of the recipient spouse. A judge can award durational alimony upon dissolution of a long-term marriage if there is no need for permanent alimony. Permanent alimony may be awarded after the dissolution of a long-term marriage to provide care for the spouse receiving the award if that spouse cannot care for themselves. Bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative alimony are relatively short duration designed to provide short-term assistance to the recipient spouse.
To Learn More About Your Rights Or Defenses To Alimony
Orlando Litigation Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary will evaluate all aspects of your case and the extent of your assets that allows her to strategize your case for the best resolution possible. To schedule your free consultation with Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary, call her Orlando, Florida office today at (888) 640-2999.