Alimony in Florida

Alimony occurs when one spouse pays the other for varying lengths of time during or after a divorce. Alimony in Florida is granted on a case by case basis; generally with a higher-income earning spouse paying the lower earner. While Florida currently has six types of alimony, the past few years have seen many bills proposing a reduction in the amount of alimony courts can grant and to possibly ban permanent alimony. Governor Scott vetoed the last alimony reform bill because he feared it put the parent's needs above the children's.

Permanent Alimony

Usually granted for what the state classifies as long-term marriages (marriages longer than 17 years), permanent alimony requires one spouse to pay the other for life. The purpose of permanent alimony is for a spouse who may have been outside of the workforce for the past decade or longer to continue with the standard of living he or she enjoyed during the marriage but would be unable to achieve individually. Permanent alimony is rarely granted for medium length marriages (those lasting between 7 and 17 years) and almost never for short term marriages (a marriage lasting 7 years or less).

Durational Alimony

Much like permanent alimony, durational alimony aims to keep both spouses at the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. However, the length of the alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage. For example, a spouse married for 8 years can only receive durational alimony for 8 years. This kind of alimony is most frequently rewarded in middle and short term marriages.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Awarded mainly for short and middle term marriages, this alimony aims at getting the spouse who may have had to leave the work force or an education for the marriage's sake to get back on his or her feet. Awarded rehabilitative alimony should assist a spouse in finishing his or her education or for employment training. To receive this alimony, the spouse must present a plan of how the awarded money will go towards furthering his or her career.

Temporary Alimony

A more common form of alimony, this requires the spouse with the higher income to help cover the divorce's court cost for a spouse with financial needs. The alimony ends once the divorce is finalized.

Bridge-The-Gap Alimony

With a two year maximum, bridge-the-gap alimony in Florida is meant to assist a spouse with his or her legitimate and identifiable short-term needs. This alimony will usually cover costs for a spouse to educate him or herself, to cover living expenses while waiting for a house to sell, and similar things.

Lump Sum Alimony

While sometimes used to support a spouse, lump sum alimony is usually meant to balance out the distribution of assists in a marriage.

Factors Determining Alimony

Alimony will not be awarded if a judge thinks the paying spouse will become financially strained or if the alimony would give the receiving spouse more net income than the paying spouse.

The follow are factors a court will consider before awarding alimony:

  • Standard of living during marriage
  • Length of marriage
  • Emotional and physical condition of spouses
  • Age of spouses
  • Both party's financial resources, including marital and non-marital assets
  • The earning capacities of both spouses, which includes employability, education level, and vocational skills
  • Both spouses contribution to the marriage, including child care, education, homemaking, and career building
  • Tax consequences of awarded alimony for both parties
  • Income sources for both parties
  • Other factors that need to be considered to do both parties justice

It is important to remember the courts count a marriage as over the day the divorce was filed, not when couple started living apart. It's also worth noting that if one spouse committed a wrong to the other that cost the couple financially that it will be factored into alimony consideration.

Alimony Modification

Different alimony types have different modification requirements. Bridge-the-gap alimony does not allow for any changes. Rehabilitative alimony may change if the receiver does not adhere to the plan he or she created or if the plan is completed early. If the financial circumstances change for either spouse in rehabilitative, durational, or permanent alimony, the alimony may be subject to change. However, the length of duration alimony hardly ever changes, though the amount given might. If either spouse dies, durational and permanent alimony automatically end.

Sub: Termination of Alimony

Most alimony payments will be tax-deductible for the payer and taxable for the recipient. However, the IRS will not tax either spouse if it considers the alimony as a lump-sum payment and property distribution.