Alimony isn’t automatic and it isn’t ordered in every divorce. Florida law provides that in order to award alimony, there must be a determination that one spouse/partner has a need for maintenance and the other has the ability to pay.
The concept of alimony developed during a time when it was common for one spouse to work full-time while the other stayed home to raise the couple’s family or care for the household. While it’s more common today for both spouses to earn a paycheck, alimony is still an option for either spouse to ensure that no one is left destitute or in need of state assistance after the divorce.
But, just like families, alimony comes in different forms.
The 6 Types of Alimony in Florida
Bridge-the-Gap is intended to provide assistance to a spouse who must transition from being married to being single. In order to be awarded this form of alimony, there must be a showing of legitimate short-term needs. Bridge-the-Gap Alimony cannot be awarded for more than two years and cannot be modified.
Rehabilitative Alimony may be awarded to allow a former spouse to establish the ability to be self-supporting by learning new skills or redeveloping previous skills through training and education. To obtain this award there must be a defined rehabilitative plan contained in the Order granting this form of alimony. If there is a “substantial change” of circumstances, or the former spouse does not follow through with the rehabilitative plan, or the plan is completed, Rehabilitative Alimony can be terminated.
Durational Alimony may be awarded to provide a former spouse with financial help for a defined period of time, is generally reserved for short-term (less than 7 years) or moderate-term (more than 7 years, but less than 17 years) marriages, although it may be awarded in a long-term marriage (more than 17 years) where there is no need for permanent alimony.
Permanent Alimony can only be awarded if there is a finding that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable considering the circumstances of the parties. If this finding and supporting factual proof is not included in a Court’s Order providing Permanent Alimony, the award will be set aside. A long-term marriage creates a rebuttable presumption in favor of an award of permanent alimony. Permanent Alimony can be awarded in a moderate-term marriage, but there is no presumption of entitlement.
Temporary Alimony may be awarded to a spouse during the pendency of the divorce litigation irrespective of the term of the marriage and can be afforded retroactively.
Lump-sum alimony is a one-time payment of alimony. Although the sum is usually paid at one time, lump-sum can be broken up into a few separate payments. The Court must make a finding that unusual circumstances exist that justify such an award. Lump-sum alimony awards are separate from equitable distribution (the division of assets and liabilities between the spouses by the court in a fair and equitable manner).
One spouse/partner’s needs and the other one’s ability to pay must be determined before an alimony award can be made. The final determination must be supported by competent and substantial evidence.
The 9 factors the Court will consider when allocating alimony:
- Duration of the marriage
- Available income
- Earning capacity, education, vocational skills, and time necessary to acquire skills
- Financial resources
- Age, physical and emotional condition
- Contributions to the marriage (child-care, career building, homemaking)
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Responsibilities each will have with the children
- Any other factor necessary to achieve a fair and just result
There is a lot to consider when considering a divorce or separation. Shared custody, alimony, child support, finances…it can be overwhelming. Call the experienced Family Law Attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti for your Free consultation. Why HLA? Perhaps our clients say it best.