Alimony in Florida is a hot issue in divorce. My law practice focuses 100% on divorce cases. I will help you understand how alimony works in Florida.
Whether you are considering divorce, starting the divorce process, or in the middle of a divorce, this article will provide information you need to make the best decision possible for your situation.
HOW ALIMONY WORKS – A STORY
The story begins with Francine.
Francine came to me because she was thinking about getting divorced. She was concerned about the possibility of having to pay her husband money every month for the rest of her life. Francine searched the internet for answers. She talked with her co-workers, family, and friends. She was so confused when we met for the first time. Within a few minutes of talking with her, she was feeling much better.
I want to do the same for you now. Let’s get started!
HOW ALIMONY WORKS – START AT THE BEGINNING
Here in Florida, alimony (sometimes also known as “spousal support”) is not based on an alimony calculator, but on two critical questions. You must be able to answer yes to each question for alimony to be an issue in your situation.
NEED TO RECEIVE ALIMONY:
Does one of you have a NEED to receive spousal support? In other words, are your living expenses more than your income?
For example, if you need $3,000 each month to cover your mortgage, rent, utilities, car payment, insurance, groceries, etc., and you only have $2,000 each month coming in from your job, then you need $1,000 each month to pay for your expenses.
ABILITY TO PAY ALIMONY:
Do you or your spouse have the ability or financial means to pay alimony? In other words, does one of you have a surplus or excess cash every month after paying the living expenses?
For example, if your spouse pays all of his living expenses and has $1,000 left over, he has an ability to pay you something every month to help you pay your expenses.
HOW MUCH ALIMONY:
There is a long list of alimony factors used to determine the proper amount of alimony. Your lawyer can and should discuss each factor with you.
The top five most common factors I see in my client’s cases are the following:
STANDARD OF LIVING: What was your standard of living established during the marriage? Things you did while you were married will give a reasonable picture of what your standard of living was like.
For example, maybe you took extravagant vacations, or lived in an expensive home. Perhaps you gave extravagant gifts to family and friend. Or, maybe you lived paycheck to paycheck. It’s possible you always have money left over after the expenses were paid.
ABILITY TO BECOME SELF-SUSTAINING: A Judge will want to know how much income you can earn based upon your educational level and skill. Maybe you need some extra training or need to learn some new skills to get a job.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FAMILY: What were your contributions to the marriage, such as homemaking, child care, education, and helping your spouse build a career?
CHILD CARE DUTIES: The responsibilities you will have with regard to your children.
THE CATCH ALL: Any other factor necessary to be fair and just in your situation.
WHAT TYPE OF ALIMONY AND HOW LONG
Florida has four types of alimony.
I am going to focus on the three most common types I see in cases every day.
The right type of spousal support in your case will depend mostly upon how long you have been married and why you need financial support. However, there are some other circumstances that will affect what type is right for you. That is beyond the scope of this article. So let’s keep it simple!
- BRIDGE-THE-GAP: The purpose of Bridge-The-Gap Alimony is to help one of you transition from married life to single life. Florida does not allow this type of alimony to last longer than 2 years and it cannot be modified or changed after you are divorced.
- PERMANENT ALIMONY: The purpose of Permanent Alimony is to provide for your needs and life necessities that you had during your marriage. If you have been married longer than 17 years, our Courts presume that Permanent Alimony is appropriate. Permanent alimony may also be right for you if no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable based upon your circumstances. It ends when one of you dies or when the person receiving it remarries. Also, if circumstances change after you are divorced, it may be increased or decreased or terminated.
- DURATIONAL: The purpose of Durational Alimony is to provide financial assistance when Permanent Alimony is inappropriate. It ends when one of you dies or if the person receiving it gets remarried. The amount can be modified later if circumstance change. However, the length of Durational Alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
So now you have more information to help you answer the question how does alimony work. Be well and stay safe.