Entitlement to Support
When deciding whether alimony and support is appropriate, the Court will evaluate the ability of one spouse to pay support and the needs of the other spouse. Unlike child support, there is no guarantee of alimony, nor is there a set amount if alimony that will be granted by the Court.
The Court will look at all relevant economic factors, including but not limited to: (1) The standard of living established while married. (2) The length of the marriage. (3) The age and health of each party. (4) The financial resources and assets of each party. (5) When applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment. (6) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party. (7) All sources of income available to either party. The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
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A spouse is ordinarily entitled to a continuation of the style and standard of living during the divorce lawsuit as was enjoyed during the marriage, and the spouse in the superior economic position may be required to pay the same amount for support during the period of litigation as was paid during the marriage. This type of support is called ‘temporary support’ and will ordinarily be modified in the final judgment of dissolution of marriage.
Types of Support
Support comes in a variety of forms, including lump sum alimony (e.g., award of home or other assets to one spouse), durational alimony (for a specific period of time), permanent alimony (for long-term marriages, ordinarily longer than 17 years). The Court can also make an unequal division of marital assets to equalize the parties’ financial circumstances. Each form of alimony can have different tax consequences.
Permanent alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage for the party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her own needs following a divorce.
The Court has the power to award of temporary attorneys’ fees, suit money, and costs in order to enable a spouse to retain existing counsel and to pay expenses related to the action for dissolution of marriage.
Modification of Support
If there has been a substantial change of circumstances, prior alimony awards can be modified. Examples of changes of circumstance include illness, loss of a job, increases or decreases in income and loss of assets.
The right of a spouse or former spouse to receive a portion of military retirement benefits is firmly embedded in Florida law by virtue of the equitable distribution statute [see Fla. Stat. § 61.075]. Florida Statutes Section 61.075(3)(a)4 provides that marital assets and liabilities include all vested and nonvested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred-compensation, and insurance plans and programs. This statutory entitlement has been made directly applicable to military pensions by Florida law.
Divorce cases involving family business assets, real estate investments, or complicated executive pension or retirement benefits can present special problems. For a free consultation on all of these issues, contact Hoffman, Larin and Agnetti, PA at (305) 653-5555. Our attorneys have handled thousands of family law cases since 1975. We have offices in Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.