Alimony

Also referred to as spousal support or maintenance, alimony is an allowance ordered by the court to be paid by one spouse to the other for maintenance and support while the case is in litigation and/or after the divorce is final. The purpose of alimony is to assist the lower income spouse. In Florida, either spouse can request alimony, and either spouse can be compelled to pay it. Alimony can be paid periodically, such as monthly, or in one lump sum.

There are a number of factors taken into consideration when determining the type and amount alimony to be paid. It’s important to have an experienced divorce attorney to help you understand how your specific situation will impact your alimony agreement.

How Does the Court Make a Decision Regarding Alimony?

Alimony is not automatically awarded in a divorce in the state of Florida. The court will only order alimony if it’s the most appropriate option for both parties. Through careful deliberation, the judge will make decisions and calculations based on the couple’s specific situation. There is no set formula. However, a guiding principle is that alimony is based on one spouse’s need for support and the other’s ability to pay.

The Factors Typically Taken Into Consideration to Determine Alimony:
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The standard of living while married.
  • The age of each spouse.
  • Each spouse’s role in the marriage.
  • The general health of both spouses.
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage including child care, homemaking, education and helping the other spouse build his or her career.
  • Any tax consequences of the alimony award.
  • The child care responsibilities of each spouse after the divorce.
Is Alimony Permanent?

Permanent alimony is the amount paid until either spouse dies or until the recipient spouse remarries or cohabits with another person in a marriage-like relationship. However, alimony is not always a permanent arrangement. One of the main factors in awarding permanent alimony is the duration of the marriage. In the state of Florida, a short-term marriage is one that lasted fewer than 7 years. A moderate-term marriage is one that lasted between 7 and 17 years. And a long-term marriage is one that lasted more than 17 years. A marriage of this length where there is a disparity in incomes of the spouses and the recipient’s income from all sources fails to meet his or her needs typically results in permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is intended to uphold the lifestyle and necessities created by a long-term marriage.

What are the Other Types of Alimony?

When permanent alimony is not appropriate, the other types of alimony in the state of Florida are:

  • Temporary alimony is the amount paid temporarily either by agreement or court order until the divorce is finalized. The amount is set based on each party's current standard of living and current ability to pay.
  • Bridge-the-gap or "short-term" alimony is the amount paid to meet short-term financial difficulties that occur during the transition from married life to single life. It is commonly an option in short-term marriages.
  • Rehabilitative alimony is the amount paid to cover education, training, and/or certification costs necessary for a spouse to enter or re-enter the workforce. A plan that names costs, time frames, and employment prospects must be made.
  • Durational alimony is an amount paid over a longer period of time. It is an option when permanent alimony is improper.
  • Lump sum alimony is an amount paid at one time. Rarely used by the courts, it requires unusual circumstances requiring a non-modifiable award of support.

The above types of alimony may be awarded in any combination that the judge determines suitable under the couple’s unique circumstances. Alimony payments may be made in regular payments, or sometimes in one lump sum. It’s important to remember that each case is unique and alimony will be granted as agreed upon by the couple or as granted by the court.

Any of these types of alimony can be non-modifiable and cannot be changed under any set of circumstances. Both parties must agree to this during divorce proceedings.

At Parker & DuFresne, P.A. we will carefully discuss with you whether you are entitled to alimony or if you will be required to pay alimony. Because the court accounts for many factors in determining whether to award alimony, it is important that we evaluate factors such as the length of the marriage, the financial situation of the parties, the age and health of the parties, and whether there has been domestic violence. We examine the earning capacity of the dependent spouse by looking at education, vocational skills, childcare needs, and length of time out of the workplace.

There are extenuating circumstances regarding alimony that the attorneys at Parker & DuFresne, P.A. can handle for you. If the other party tries to hide or limit income in order to avoid having to pay alimony, your attorneys will use every resource available to discover and disclose this. In another situation, a prenuptial agreement that addresses alimony may have been signed. Parker & DuFresne, P.A. attorneys will examine the validity of your prenuptial agreement, and if necessary, they will argue its terms in court.

Parker & DuFresne, P.A. serves clients in Duval, St. Johns, Clay, and Nassau counties. If you are dealing with alimony issues, it is imperative that you be pro-active in seeking the legal advice and representation of an experienced Parker & DuFresne, P.A. attorney as soon as possible. Waiting to do so could negatively impact your ability to achieve a positive resolution to the matter. Protect your legal rights by contacting Parker & DuFresne, P. A. at 904.432.3678 or at http://www.jaxlawcenter.com to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At Parker & DuFresne, P.A., our skilled family law attorneys are ready to represent and protect your interests during alimony proceedings.

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