Alimony In High Net Asset Divorces
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.
Alimony Attorney in Orlando, Florida
Protecting Your Financial Security & Standard of Living in Divorce
While alimony (also referred to as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance”) will be awarded in many Florida divorces, the right to receive spousal support is not automatic. The duration and amount of spousal support will have a profound impact on both parties in divorces where this form of financial support is awarded. The function of alimony is to adjust for a substantial disparity in income and earning ability between the parties to a divorce.
When Orlando alimony attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary represents the potentially obligated party, she tenaciously holds the court and opposing party to the legal standard of proving the need of the recipient party and ability to pay of the obligated party. The amount of spousal support generally increases based on the length of the marriage and the magnitude of the disparity of income between the parties, However, the court cannot award spousal support without a determination based on admissible evidence that these showings have been established.
When representing a party seeking spousal maintenance, we carefully investigate and analyze the marital standard of living and income sources of both parties to seek an award that best permits our client to maintain a lifestyle approximating that of the parties during the marriage. Since the same amount of income now must support two households, however, this goal can be unobtainable.
What Divorcing Parties Should Know about Spousal Support in Florida
In 2010, Florida implemented substantial changes to alimony law embodied in Florida Statute 61.08. When considering the amount and length of alimony, the court must weigh the following factors:
- The physical and emotional condition of both parties
- The age of each party
- Income available to either party (including from assets distributed in the divorce)
- Length of the marriage
- Marital standard of living
- Tax consequences of the spousal support award
- Contributions of either party to the marriage (e.g. career building, child care, homemaking, and education)
- Financial resources of each spouse following equitable distribution of assets and liabilities (marital and non-marital assets)
- Parental responsibilities under the time sharing arrangement and parenting plan
- Earning capacity of parties (e.g. education, vocational training, and employability) & time needed for the financially disadvantaged party to become appropriately employable
The Florida alimony statute authorizes courts to award several different types of alimony, which include the following:
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony: This form of support is designed to assist the lower income spouse in transitioning from married to single status. The funds might cover items like a vehicle and appropriate housing.
- Durational Support: This form of support was created when Florida made significant changes in 2010. This form of alimony continues for a fixed amount of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration not to exceed the length of the marriage. The length of the marriage is calculated from the date of marriage to the date the petition for divorce is filed. Under the statute, marriages are classified as follows:
Short Duration – Under 7 years
Moderate Duration – More than 7 years but under 17 years
Long Duration – 17 or more years
- Rehabilitative Alimony: This form of alimony is awarded based on a specific plan to obtain employment that will provide self-sufficiency. The alimony under the plan might enable the party to pursue a specific education, vocational program, internship, and/or apprenticeship.
- Permanent Alimony: This form of alimony will only be awarded after a marriage of long duration unless there are extraordinary circumstances. Permanent alimony may be awarded when a spouse does not have the capacity to obtain the marital standard of living based on the spouse’s general needs and necessities of life. The court will consider the factors listed above when deciding what is needed to reasonably maintain the marital lifestyle. The needs of the recipient spouse will be considered higher if the couple had a luxurious lifestyle.
While spousal maintenance is usually awarded on a periodic basis, the court can also award support in a lump sum. Sometimes a court will combine these types of alimony. The court also can award temporary support during the pendency of the divorce.
Modification of Spousal Maintenance
While our law firm can pursue a modification or termination of permanent spousal support, the standard for obtaining such relief is an unexpected, involuntary, and substantial change in circumstances impairing the obligated spouse’s ability to pay. This is a high standard, so a skilled Florida divorce attorney is essential when seeking this form of relief.
Contact the Law Offices of Beryl Thompson-McClary P.A. Today
The process of establishing alimony in Florida is highly subjective, so skilled advocacy is essential if you cannot reach an amicable agreement with your spouse. Unlike child support, there is no simple mathematical formula that permits parties to predict a court’s child support order. Whether we are attempting to mitigate the potential alimony obligation of our client or seeking support for a lower earning spouse, our clients take comfort in the fact that Beryl Thompson-McClary has extensive litigation experience. She understands the factors that impact a judge’s award of spousal maintenance. She has the proven skill to persuasively present evidence regarding the recipient spouse’s need, the paying spouse’s ability to pay, the marital standard, and the statutory factors set forth in Florida Statute 61.08. We have law offices in Orlando and practice in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Brevard, and Volusia counties. To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney, you can call our office at 888-640-2999.