In every divorce case, either spouse may request alimony or spousal support. While the traditional notion has been that women are entitled to spousal support based on their traditional role as a stay at home wife/mother, nothing precludes the father/husband to seek alimony when the facts or circumstances are appropriate. The determination of alimony is a multi-step process. First, the court must determine whether the party seeking alimony has a need for alimony. Second, if the court determines that the spouse does in fact have a need for alimony, the court must then determine whether or not the other spouse actually has the ability to pay alimony. These two steps are generally determined and reviewed by conducting an analysis of each parties current financial situation including their assets, liabilities and income.
If the court is satisfied that there is a need and the ability to pay exists, the court must then determine the type of alimony to be awarded. In Florida the different types of alimony are bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, permanent alimony or any combination thereof. Alimony may be paid periodically, lump sum payment of both.
In determining the type and amount of alimony to award, the court must then review:
– the adultery of either spouse and circumstances thereof
– The standard of living established during the marriage.
– The duration of the marriage.(The presumption is that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.)
– The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
– The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
– 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.
– 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.
– The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
– The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award.
– All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
– Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Each specific type of alimony has been created for a specific purpose as defined in Section 61.08, Florida Statutes, and explained below:
Bridge-the-gap alimony: This is short-term alimony awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. The length of an award may not exceed 2 years. Bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. Bridge-the-gap alimony is non-modifiable.
Rehabilitative alimony: Awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials or the acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. Prior to awarding , there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan. An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances, noncompliance or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.
Durational alimony: Awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. Terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances however, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent alimony: Awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life established during the marriage for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage. the court must first find that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship.
A party involved in a dissolution of marriage in Walton County or Okaloosa County who is seeking alimony or spousal support or defending a claim for alimony or spousal support should strongly consider consulting with a Walton County or Okaloosa County divorce lawyer or family law attorney.
Jeremy S. Keich is a Walton County Divorce Attorney representing clients in matters involving divorce, child custody, child support and paternity issues. None of the information contained in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor shall the communication be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. For more information about Jeremy S. Keich or to contact him about a Walton County or Okaloosa County Family Law Matter please visit www.keichlaw.com or call (850) 460-2989.