She came in for a free consultation. She tells me that after 10 years, her marriage is broken and her husband has moved out. They own a house valued at $200,000 (it was worth $300,000 a couple of years ago) with a $250,000 mortgage. She wants to keep the shanghai houses. He works for the County and earns $4,500 a month before taxes; she works in a dental office and earns $1600 a month before taxes. After the $2500 her husband took out of the joint account to pay first and last month’s rent on his new digs, she has $500 left in the bank. She thinks he has a girlfriend who is a co-worker.
She wants to know how she can hire me since she has no money. She wonders how she will survive and keep the mortgage current during the divorce proceeding (he already told her ‘I am not giving you anything’.)
This scenario and the questions relating to temporary alimony or support are common.
Temporary alimony is money paid by one spouse to another to provide for his or her living expenses such as food, clothing, and housing and to maintain his or her lifestyle during the action for dissolution of marriage.
The Judge has broad discretion in awarding temporary alimony and there are no specific guidelines. Rather, temporary alimony is based on the traditional standards of one spouse’s need, the other’s ability to pay and the standard of living established during the marriage. Put another way, a supported spouse is entitled to a continuation of the style and standard of living during the divorce litigation as was enjoyed during the marriage. A person’s needs include those non-essentials and luxuries that he or she enjoyed during the life of a marriage. Each family, then, has a unique standard of living and although one family’s standard of living may seem extravagant or overwhelming to others, it will still be the basis for determining the amount of temporary support in that case.
The court also has the discretion to award temporary attorneys’ fees, suit money, and costs. The purpose of an award of interim (temporary) attorneys’ fees is to make sure that one party will not be placed at a disadvantage by the financial resources of the other (i.e, the court will ‘level the playing field’.)
A hearing for temporary alimony and temporary attorneys’ fees (generally an emergency or high priority hearing) may be held either before the court or a master appointed for that purpose when the court docket is crowded and getting a hearing before the court would result in a delay.
See here for more detailed information about temporary alimony and temporary support in Florida.