Current Status of Alimony in Florida:
There has been much media coverage regarding the Florida Legislature’s attempts to rewrite the alimony statute in Florida, leading to considerable public confusion. The Legislature has twice sent legislation to Governor Scott designed to change alimony law in Florida. The Governor vetoed the first Bill in 2013, explaining that the “retroactive” effect of that Bill would have overwhelmed the courts with thousands of modification actions seeking to terminate long-standing alimony awards. Quite right!
Governor Scott vetoed yet another Bill seeking to change Florida alimony law in 2015. While this bill did not contain the retroactive provisions, this time the Governor vetoed the Bill due to a provision that would have created a “presumption” of equal time-sharing for all parents of minor children following a divorce or other separation of the parents. The first Bill actually contained very similar language regarding equal time-sharing, but was not the reason the Governor gave for his veto. In sum, despite what you may have heard, the alimony statutes have not been altered in recent years.
The awarding of alimony is a legal recourse in a divorce proceeding, where one spouse is obligated to assist with the support of the other spouse, either "permanently", or until that spouse establishes a means to support themselves after the marriage ends. In the State of Florida, alimony payments can be made on a monthly basis, paid in a lump sum, or a combination of both.
In Florida, courts tend to award alimony (spousal support) when there are significant income gaps between divorcing spouses. For instance, if one spouse does not have a job, owns few assets, or has spent a significant portion of the marriage engaged in child-rearing, it is more likely that a court will award spousal support, than if both spouses are working and have similar work and life experiences.
The awarding of alimony is no way a punitive process and is not designed or made to punish one spouse in any way. Courts must assure that neither party will be left destitute following a marriage, and particularly after a long-term marriage, that the parties are able to continue a lifestyle which reasonably reflects that during the marriage.
Statutory Designations Regarding "Length of Marriage"
Alimony is determined based upon numerous factors, but one primary factor concerns the length of a marriage. These are broken down as follows:
Short-term – The marriage has lasted fewer than seven (7) years. [Presumption against alimony]
Moderate-term – The marriage has lasted more than 7 years, but fewer than seventeen (17) years [No presumption for or against alimony]
Long-term – The marriage has lasted 17 or more years [Presumption in favor of alimony]
Different Purposes For Alimony
Permanent alimony – Permanent alimony is most often awarded in long-term marriages, but is not uncommon on the longer end of moderate term marriages. Permanent alimony means until either party dies, or until the receiving spouse is remarried, but also means until the court orders otherwise, as it remains modifiable when there is a substantial change of circumstances. Unlike child support, there is no formula to calculate alimony, and the court will assess need and ability to pay to determine what it considers a reasonable amount of alimony.
Temporary alimony – This is an temporary award of alimony given during the divorce process, and terminates or is replaced by another form of alimony in the final divorce decree.
Bridge-the-gap alimony – This is also a temporary form of alimony and is intended to help a spouse pay the bills associated with re-starting their life after marriage.
Rehabilitative alimony – The court will grant rehabilitative alimony when a spouse will need to pursue different educational programs or specific vocational skill training in order to obtain gainful employment. The requesting spouse must present a specific plan for the education and training. Rehabilitative alimony can be awarded in addition to other forms of alimony.
Durational alimony – In the case of moderate and short term marriages, or when the other types of alimony don't fit the circumstances, durational alimony may be awarded. It is paid in a set amount over a pre-determined period of time, which cannot exceed the length of the marriage.
Lump Sum alimony - This is a relatively rare form of alimony. Sometimes, a party who would otherwise have to pay monthly alimony will negotiate a larger share of marital assets to go to the spouse in exchange for eliminating alimony or reducing alimony. Sometimes a party who would otherwise have to pay monthly alimony will have sufficient separate, non-marital assets to enable a buy out of the alimony obligation from those separate assets.
Determining Spousal Support | Attorney Serving Cocoa, Merritt Island And All Of Brevard County
Unlike child support, there is no set formula that determines how much or how little alimony will be paid. Unless the divorcing spouses settle the amount out-of-court through a marital settlement agreement or mediated agreement, a court will decide if support payments are needed.
Depending upon the circumstances of the parties, alimony can be any of the types above, or a combination of types.
The amount of alimony a court may grant is purely up to the discretion of the judge. However, judges do consider several factors when making determinations. Some of the factors considered are:
- Ages and health
- Incomes and earning histories
- Employment histories
- Educational histories
- Years of marriage
- Debts and monthly expenses
- Shared minor children
- Overall assets of the parties following divorce
- The marital lifestyle
Contact Brevard County Alimony Attorney Daniel Freyberg
Attorney Daniel J. Freyberg, P.A., is an experienced alimony attorney serving Brevard County. He assists clients in obtaining alimony when their marriages end. He also represents clients who need to prove that a requested alimony amount is not warranted.
As your lawyer, attorney Freyberg will use the facts of your marriage to your financial advantage in a divorce proceeding or when seeking a modification to a spousal maintenance order. To consult with him about your circumstances, and to learn more about your legal options, contact attorney Daniel J. Freyberg online, or call 321-459-2994.