Alimony is the money that you pay to your soon to be ex or ex-spouse. This money is being paid to cover basic needs and/or to accommodate a certain lifestyle established during the course of the marriage. Unlike child support, there is no formula to calculate alimony. A court has discretion when determining the amount of alimony to be paid and/or the length of time for which it shall be paid. The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.
So how does the court decide? First, the court must determine whether one spouse has an actual need for alimony. And, if so, whether the other spouse has the ability to pay alimony. If the court finds that one party has a need for alimony AND the other party has the ability to pay alimony, then pursuant to Florida Statute §61.08 the court shall consider all of the following factors to determine the type and amount of alimony:
(a)The standard of living established during the marriage;
(b)The duration of the marriage;
(c)The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party;
(d)The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each;
(e)The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment;
(f)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;
(g)The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common;
(h)The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment;
(i)All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party; and
(j)Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
The State of Florida has separated alimony into several different types depending upon the circumstances of each individual case. No two cases are the same. Accordingly, the facts relevant to each of the above factors are very important to determine the type and amount of alimony to be awarded, if any. Here in Florida, we have bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony and permanent alimony.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is typically used to assist a party in making the transition from being married to being single and tied to some legitimate identifiable short-term needs. Bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. Bridge-the-gap alimony is not modifiable (as to amount or duration) and cannot exceed 2 years.
Rehabilitative alimony is used to help a party become self-supporting through either the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials or through acquisition of education, training or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. A party that is seeking this type of alimony must show a specific and defined rehabilitative plan such as attending college or vocational training. Rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.
Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent alimony is inappropriate. Durational alimony provides a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following either a short-term marriage or a marriage of moderate duration or a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. Durational alimony shall terminate upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances. The length of an award of durational alimony, however, may only be modified under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent alimony is typically used to allow a party to continue to live in the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage including, at a minimum, providing for their basic needs and necessities of life. Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration if such an award is appropriate after considering the above list of factors or following a marriage of moderate duration if such an award is appropriate based upon clear and convincing evidence after considering the above list of factors or following a marriage of short duration if there are written findings by the court of exceptional circumstances. Permanent alimony shall terminate upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. Permanent alimony may be modified or terminated upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship.
As noted above, the duration of the marriage is one of the factors when determining the type of alimony. Florida Law makes the following presumptions regarding the duration of a marriage:
A short-term marriage is a marriage less than seven years;
A moderate marriage is a marriage of more than seven years but less than seventeen years; and
A long-term marriage is a marriage of seventeen years or greater.
I know some of you are thinking that I have repeatedly stated above that alimony terminates upon death. Accordingly, if you are awarded alimony for ten years and your ex-spouse dies after two years, then your alimony stops. Frequently, the parties will agree to or a court may order some form of security for payment of the alimony. The most common form of security, is a life insurance policy insuring the life of the spouse paying the alimony and naming the recipient spouse as the beneficiary.
As part of your preparation for your dissolution of marriage, you should go through all of the factors and write down the particular facts of your marriage that support or do not support each factor and your claim for or against alimony. As stated previously, it is the specific facts of your case that will determine the alimony award, if any. Thank you for choosing Daniel M. Genet, P.A. and I look forward to working with you.
Daniel M. Genet, P.A.
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