Many factors must be considered by the court when deciding how to handle divorce cases. Each case is unique and must be thoroughly reviewed before passing judgment. This is especially true when determining alimony payments; alimony is a payment made from one ex-spouse to the other due to a financial disparity between the two at the time of divorce. There are five types of alimony that can be awarded in the state of Florida.
Types of Alimony in Florida
Also known as spousal support, temporary alimony is ordered to be paid during the divorce proceedings only. Once the final divorce judgment is made, temporary alimony typically is converted to one of the other types of alimony.
Bridge-the-gap alimony only covers the expenses expected for one spouse to transition into single life. This type of alimony is short-term and will cover bills and other foreseeable expenses.
Rehabilitative alimony is similar to bridge-the-gap, but it includes a focus on the time required for the receiving spouse to further their education or obtain employment. For this reason, rehabilitative alimony lasts longer than bridge-the-gap alimony but is still considered short-term.
Durational alimony is only intended for short-term and moderate-term marriages (up to 17 years). Durational alimony cannot be received for longer than the duration of the marriage. For example, if a couple was married for two years, the spouse would only receive (or pay) durational alimony for two years.
Florida is one of only six states that allow permanent alimony; permanent alimony is ordered to be paid until the receiving spouse passes away or remarries. Living in a situation similar to a marriage with a long-term partner can also terminate permanent alimony payments. However, legislation is introduced almost every year in Florida to end permanent alimony. The most recent attempt in 2021 was unsuccessful, but the legislation sponsors intend to reintroduce the same bill next year.
How is alimony eligibility determined?
Judges in Florida divorce proceedings use a two-part test to determine if a spouse is eligible to receive alimony payments. The first part of this test assesses the potential recipient’s need for alimony. If it is determined that alimony is necessary to correct a financial disparity between the two partners, the judge will then assess the potential payer’s ability to send alimony. If both parts of the eligibility test are passed, then the judge must decide how much the receiving spouse will collect.
How much alimony will I receive (or have to pay)?
There is no set formula to determine alimony payments in Florida, but spouses do have a legal obligation to financially support each other. By definition, alimony payments should maintain the same standard of living for the receiving spouse they were accustomed to during the marriage. For example, if one spouse stayed home to raise children, then their alimony payments should allow them to maintain that same lifestyle.
How long will I receive (or pay) alimony?
In Florida, alimony can be anything from a one-time payment to monthly payments for the rest of the recipient’s natural life. The type of alimony awarded will affect how long payments will be required.
Can the alimony order be changed?
Yes, there are several reasons that an alimony order can be modified. If the payer loses a significant portion of their income involuntarily, they may request that the ordered alimony be decreased. Inversely, if the payer earns significantly more income than they did at the time alimony was originally ordered, the recipient can ask for a modification to increase the alimony payments. If the alimony recipient remarries at any point while receiving payments, the payer can request that the alimony be terminated. There are many other reasons that an alimony modification may be granted, so the court looks at each modification request individually.
What if I don’t agree with the ordered alimony?
It’s common for one party or the other to disagree with the terms of the alimony order. Payers often feel the payments are too much or for too long; recipients may feel the opposite and believe a higher payment is justified. It’s important to always handle alimony disagreements with the proper legal channels. You should never just stop paying ordered alimony because you don’t agree with it, or you will risk having your wages, tax refunds, pensions, and more garnished for the amount due.
Navigating the Florida divorce court process can be stressful and difficult. Whether you’re looking at paying alimony or receiving it, the experts at Caveda Law Firm can help you get the terms most favorable for your situation. Call us at (813) 463-0800 to schedule a free consultation for your divorce case.