Alimony is the money a court orders an ex-spouse to pay the other for provision and support after divorce or during the divorce process. Alimony, more commonly referred to as spousal support by the courts, is typically paid to the lower-earning spouse for a specified length of time.
During your divorce, we can help you to determine if any of the below types of alimony apply to your case and draft and submit the request for the support to the court. Post-divorce, we can also aid our clients in seeking modification or termination of their spousal support agreements.
Types of Alimony
There are five different kinds of alimony in Florida:
- Durational: This type of alimony provides temporary support for a set duration of time that cannot exceed the length of the marriage. For example, if a couple was married for 8 years, durational alimony is set for 8 years or less.
- Permanent: The purpose of this type of alimony is to provide adequate financial support for a spouse who cannot become self-sufficient and allows them to sustain the standard of living experienced during the marriage. When awarding this type of alimony, the judge considers the age of the spouse, their ability to return to the workforce, the spouse’s skills and educational background, and most importantly, the length of the marriage.
- Temporary: The court awards temporary alimony when one spouse is in need of financial support during the divorce process – for example, if the spouse is a stay at home parent but has the skills or education to easily return to the workforce. The spouse receiving the support will be required to take steps towards becoming self-sufficient. Typically, with temporary alimony as soon as the divorce is finalized, support payments cease.
- Bridge-The-Gap: A court may award this type of alimony when a spouse requires continued temporary support after the divorce is finalized so that he or she can meet short-term needs as they obtain the skills or education needed to return to the workforce. This type of alimony starts after the divorce becomes final and lasts a maximum of two years.
- Rehabilitative: When rehabilitative alimony is ordered, the paying spouse provides financial assistance to the other in order for them to afford the costs of educational advancement or training needed to acquire a job. Prior to granting rehabilitative alimony, the judge will require the requesting spouse to submit a detailed plan highlighting the amount of rehabilitative alimony required, the duration of the education or training, and what expenses the alimony will cover.
Factors That Affect The Awarding Of Alimony
As soon as a request of alimony is put forward, the courts look at the facts of the case, to see if the spouse requesting for alimony meets the required standards. If the court determines there is a need for money, the court will also have to determine if the other spouse would be able to meet the demands. If the court determines that paying spouse would be left with significantly less income than the receiving spouse, then it won’t award alimony except in exceptional scenarios.
The following factors have to be put into consideration by the judges when deciding what type of alimony, amount of alimony to be paid, and the duration of the spousal support.
- The financial stability of the receiving spouse including all forms of income (from a job, social security, disability, investments, etc.), marital property, and separate property
- Earning capacity of each spouse including employability, educational history, and skills
- Length of marriage and marital standard of living
- Age of each spouse
- The physical and emotional condition of each spouse
- Financial support already to be provided for minor children
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage such as child care, education, and homemaking
- The court may also consider adultery or any other wrongdoing when awarding alimony, especially if the act caused the other spouse financial harm
Modification of Spousal Support
The court can modify an alimony award unless both parties tender a written agreement as to when the alimony ends or in what circumstances it can be modified. The modification or termination of an alimony award depends on the type of alimony:
- Bridge-the-gap alimony is unmodifiable under any conditions
- The court can modify rehabilitative alimony if the receiving party fails to adhere to the plan or completes the plan earlier than the agreed date
- Permanent, Durational, and Rehabilitative alimony can be modified if there has been a drastic change in the financial situation of each spouse. It should be noted that durational alimony can only be modified in amount, and not in the length of the alimony. Durational alimony can never exceed the duration of the marriage
Termination of Alimony or Spousal Support
Permanent alimony and durational alimony are terminated when the receiving spouse remarries or either spouse passes away. Termination of support can be requested if the receiving spouse is in a “supportive relationship” with an unrelated individual.