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Alimony is the amount of financial support paid by one spouse to the other both before and after their divorce is final. The court considers many factors when determining whether to award alimony, the amount which is to be paid, and the type of payment which will be made.

Unlike some other states, Florida does not have standard calculations regarding alimony, and the combination of factors which are used is unique to each marriage, potentially making it quite a complex matter for the court to decide. To speak with a Jacksonville divorce lawyer who has the skills necessary to assist you, contact Jason K.S. Porter, P.A. for experienced legal counsel and skilled guidance to help you secure an alimony order which works in your favor.

Types of Alimony in a Florida Divorce Case

When pursuing alimony payments in a divorce, it is important to keep in mind that there are many different forms of spousal support which can be awarded based upon a variety of circumstances. Alimony is intended to make it possible for a spouse who has been financially dependent during the marriage to maintain an acceptable standard of living, and to ease the transition back into single life. The two most basic forms of alimony are permanent and temporary alimony. Following is a breakdown of the various types of alimony:

Permanent alimony allows you to receive alimony for the rest of your life. However, under the current law, should there be a change in circumstances, this can be reevaluated and changed. For those who have been involved in a long-term marriage (longer than 17 years) or those in a moderate term marriage (7 to 17 year), permanent alimony is often a viable solution.

For some parties, they may have chosen to stay at home to raise the children and not have income of their own. A classic example is of a couple who has been married for thirty years – none of which the wife worked. If she stayed at home to run the household and care for the children, she likely would have grown accustomed to their standard of living but be unable to maintain it on her own. In these cases, the court would likely be partial to ensuring that the wife receives some sort of economic help in the time following the marriage.

Rehabilitative alimony is usually given in situations where one party needs economically assistance in getting on their feet once more, but the courts do not deem them dependent to the point of needing permanent alimony. In many cases, this type of alimony is awarded to help the receiving party in their efforts of becoming self-sufficient.

Just one situation where rehabilitative alimony could be useful is if one party of a marriage may have no source of income, but could be going to school to increase their earning capacity and employment prospects. During this time, the court may deem that it is appropriate to award rehabilitative alimony as the person will not need permanent assistance. Once they are able to graduate and step forward into a career, they will be self-sufficient and will no longer need the fiscal assistance.

Durational alimony differs in that it is a new form of alimony created through changes made to Florida family law in 2010. Under Florida law, someone can be awarded durational alimony after having been in what is deemed a short term (below seven years) or moderate term marriage (seven to seventeen years). Before this change in the law, people who had been in a marriage of this length had been barred from receiving alimony payments. Now, these people are able to achieve a temporary form of alimony that allows for them to receive short-term financial assistance until they are able to get on their feet once more.

Finally, there is what is known as "bridge-the-gap" alimony. This is a temporary form of alimony that allows for the receiving party to receive up to two years of payments. After this, the payments are terminated under HB 907. This type of alimony was first seen in the case Murray v. Murray in 1979 when a court ordered a husband to pay his wife four years of monthly payments of $1,000 or until she had completed her bachelor’s degree. The marriage had lasted for seven months and the wife came from limited means whereas the husband in the marriage had been noticeably wealthy.

The court stated that the alimony was awarded in an attempt to help the wife “bridge the gap” between the high standard of living that she had experienced during the extent of her brief, wealthy marriage and the more modest standard of living that she would be more comfortably able to provide for herself. Therefore, it is not permanent alimony, but rather a way in which temporary payments can satisfy short-term needs that were achieved in a short-term marriage. Over the years, courts have enforced this idea in several decisions.

Determining Factors for Spousal Support

Unless you and your spouse are able to settle questions of spousal support outside of the courtroom in an uncontested divorce, the judge will be called upon to issue a ruling on the matter, and will follow the guidelines as set out under Florida Statutes §61.08 (2011), which includes factors such as:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Profession, education and current income of each spouse
  • Contributions each spouse made to the marriage, both financial and otherwise
  • Age, health and emotional status of each spouse
  • Available assets and liabilities, both joint and individual
  • Employment opportunities available to each spouse

Decisions made about alimony will have immediate and long-lasting effects on both parties, largely determining whether you will be financially stable as you begin this new chapter of your life. Whether you are being requested to pay spousal support or if you need to receive payments, we want to help you achieve a just and equitable outcome which will serve your best interests and protect your future.

Contact a Jacksonville divorce attorney from Jason K.S. Porter, P.A. for trusted representation today!

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