ALIMONY

In determining whether an award of alimony is appropriate, the court will look at the actual need of the party requesting alimony, the ability to pay of the other party, and the standard of living established during the marriage. There are several different types of alimony: 

 

  1. Bridge-the-gap  

  2. Rehabilitative  

  3. Durational  

  4. Permanent  

 

The court may order alimony on a temporary during the divorce proceedings.  This type of alimony is called pendente lite alimony.

 

All forms of alimony can be ordered to be paid periodically, or lump sum, or a combination of both. All forms of alimony, unless stated differently in an agreement by the parties, terminate upon death or the remarriage of the recipient of alimony.  The tax laws have changed with regard to the deductibility of alimony such that for alimony awards entered January 1, 2019 and thereafter, the recipient is no longer taxed on the payment as income, and the payor no longer receives the benefit of a deduction for payment of the obligation.  If you have a prior alimony award and wish to remain grandfathered into the old alimony tax law, you must preserve that with language in the agreement or supplemental final judgment or you will be subject to the new tax laws regarding alimony.

 

There is no formula for determining the amount of an alimony award, although a formula has been proposed on several occasions. In considering the type and amount of alimony to award, the court will consider all relevant factors, per Florida Statute 61.08, including, but not limited to:

 

  1. The standard of living established during the marriage.

  2. The duration of the marriage. 

  3. The age and emotional condition of each party. 

  4. The financial resources of each party, including non-marital and marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.

  5. The earning capacities, education levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties, and when applicable, the time necessary for the party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment. 

  6. The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, childcare, education, and career building of the other. 

  7. The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common. 

  8. All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of assets held by that party,

  9. Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the two parties. 

 

The length of the marriage is an important consideration in the court’s determination of an alimony award.  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 that 7 years but less than 17, and a long-term marriage is one having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of the marriage is the period of time from the date of the marriage until the date of filing an action for dissolution of marriage. It is important to consider the duration of your marriage and when you should file based on these rebuttable presumptions as to the length of the marriage because certain presumptions accompany each category. 

 

For an award of alimony in a short-term marriage, the court must make written findings that exceptional circumstances exist. In a moderate-term marriage, the most likely award of alimony falls within the durational alimony category, which may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate (and in a moderate-term marriage, the Court is likely to find permanent periodic alimony inappropriate). Durational alimony is awarded to assist a party for a short or moderate duration following the marriage. Although the durational alimony award can be modified or terminated on a substantial change in circumstance, the length of the award may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances. An award of durational alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage, as determined by the date of filing. 

 

There is a presumption of permanent periodic alimony in a long-term marriage. The purpose of this alimony is to provide for the actual needs and necessities of life that were established during the marriage for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and the necessities of life following the dissolution of marriage. The award is modifiable and may be terminated upon a substantial change in circumstances or the existence or a supportive relationship. 

 

With an award of rehabilitative alimony there must be a specific rehabilitative plan. The purpose of this alimony is to assist a party in establishing the ability to be self-supporting. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony is to allow for a transition from being married to being single by the party needing support. It is designed to assist with short-term legitimate, identifiable needs and cannot exceed two years. Rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated based on a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan. Bridge the gap alimony is not modifiable in amount or duration, except with the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient spouse. 

 

Alimony payments can be made through the depository (typically through an Income Withholding Order), but that is not required. The alimony award may be protected by life insurance or a bond to the extent the court deems that necessary. 

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