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How Is Alimony Determined in Florida?

David Scott, P.A. Aug. 20, 2022

Figuring out who gets alimony payments – and how much those payments should be – can be one of the most stressful elements of divorce proceedings.

Perhaps you’re upset or angry with your ex and the last thing you want to do is pay them money every month for years. Or you may need alimony payments to live, and be stressed over whether you’ll receive enough to adequately take care of yourself.

Whether you’re the one paying or the one getting a check, how do you know what payment to expect? How is it decided?

Let’s go through what factors Florida uses to determine alimony payments, including the actual amount, and how long it will need to be paid.

The Five Types of Alimony Offered in Florida

Florida has different types of alimony payments for different stages of the divorce process.

Temporary Alimony – While divorce proceedings are going on, a judge can order “temporary alimony.” This will require one spouse to assist the other financially until the divorce is final and a more permanent alimony plan is put in place.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – It can take many people a few months to get back on their feet after a divorce, especially if they are trying to rearrange shared finances and property. Bridge-the-gap alimony is assigned for just that reason.

For example, the spouse in need may be trying to finish school or sell property, and therefore needs financial assistance until they are able to support themselves.

This type of alimony only lasts up to two years.

Rehabilitative Alimony – This type of alimony is similar to bridge-the-gap alimony in many ways. It is temporary, and is put in place to help one party until they can support themselves.

However, the big difference is that rehabilitative alimony can last longer than two years. Because of this, it requires more work to be put in place.

The recipient, in order to receive this type of alimony, must submit an outline to the judge detailing his or her financial plan (going to school, getting training for a certain employment position, and so on), and asking for a particular amount of alimony lasting for a specific amount of time.

Durational Alimony – Durational alimony is the last type of temporary alimony that can be put into place. It is used when neither bridge-the-gap nor rehabilitative alimony is deemed appropriate.

The length of time that someone will have to pay durational alimony is determined by the length of the marriage (for example, a 5-year marriage can only be granted 5 years of durational alimony).

Permanent Alimony ­– Last (and the absolute opposite of least) is our permanent alimony option.

This is often a last option for judges. In order to justify it, they have to state why temporary alimony would not be appropriate after the divorce is finalized. Often, this type of alimony is awarded to partners who lack the ability to support themselves financially.

Factors That Determine Alimony under the Law

Once a type of alimony is determined, a judge must decide how much alimony must be paid. For the most part, Florida judges want to create a similar standard of living to what the recipient had while in his or her marriage. However, the following factors will also play into the amount of alimony that is awarded:

Separate and marital property the recipient will have after the divorce is final

The education, earning capacity, and skills of each party

Length of the marriage

Age and physical condition of each party

Each spouse’s contribution to the household and finances (which includes homemaking and child care)

Taxes placed on alimony award

Child support and child custody agreements

Fault and adultery

In Florida, child support may be considered a separate ruling from alimony payments. Learn more about what factors go into child support payments here.

Can Alimony Be Modified?

Bridge-the-gap alimony may not be modified, but other types of temporary alimony can be adjusted based on the recipient or the paying party’s financial situation.

If the recipient gets remarried, alimony payments will immediately stop. If the recipient enters a relationship that could be considered a “supportive relationship,” the alimony payments may also be rescinded.

These matters may have to be settled in court. A lot of the factors that a judge considers may require testimony from each spouse, children, or anyone financially related to the couple. Whether you are fighting for alimony payments, fighting not to pay them, or asking for changes to a previously agreed-upon arrangement, we recommend consulting with an experienced Florida family lawyer before petitioning to have alimony payments modified or terminated.