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Spousal Support: Understanding Alimony in Florida

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

Divorces are stressful and emotional for everyone involved. They can also be expensive, leaving you even more stressed due to financial woes.

Why? Because a marriage is made up of two people who each contribute to their joint household and lifestyle. When a couple gets divorced, that contribution goes down by one whole person. This often leads to a lower standard of living because there is less income coming in. Florida courts have decided, though, that the standard of living that each spouse has gotten used to should be able to continue for at least some time.

To allow this to happen, alimony was created. Alimony is the money that one spouse pays to the other for support during the divorce process or for some time following the final divorce. In most cases, the higher earner in the marriage is required to help the lower earner in maintaining the marital lifestyle.

In Florida, there are 5 different types of alimony. A judge can award these different types of alimony in any combination that seems fair. depending on the circumstances. Spouses can also make their own agreement and set their own terms and conditions regarding alimony – even giving it up entirely.

Types of Alimony

Temporary Alimony. Temporary alimony is also called “pendent lite.” Temporary alimony is awarded during the divorce process when one spouse needs financial support. Since this alimony is only temporary, it will end as soon as the divorce is final.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony. Bridge-the-gap alimony begins after the divorce is final. This type of alimony is considered to be short-term, only lasting for 2 years at most. Bridge-the-gap alimony is intended for the spouse to meet short-term needs so that they will be able to support themselves eventually. If a spouse is finishing their education or waiting for a house to sell, for example, they might receive this type of alimony to tide them over until they can provide for themselves.

Rehabilitative Alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help the spouse in receiving training or education in order to secure appropriate employment. If a spouse wants rehabilitative alimony, they must submit a plan detailing the necessary money and time required to achieve their goal.

Durational Alimony. Durational alimony is used if the other types of alimony are insufficient. Durational alimony can be provided to a spouse for up to the length of the marriage. If you were married for 5 years, durational alimony will only last for up to 5 years.

Permanent Alimony. Permanent alimony is provided if a spouse is unable to support themselves close to the level of the marital standard of living. A judge has to explain the reasons for awarding permanent alimony and why another form of alimony wouldn’t work in that case.

Factors in Awarding Alimony

The court will look at the facts of an individual case and determine whether there is a need for alimony and whether the other spouse can pay the alimony. If a judge finds that there is a need and the ability to pay, the relevant factors of the case will be considered, such as:

  • The marital standard of living

  • The length of the marriage

  • The age and physical and emotional condition of each spouse

  • The financial resources for each spouse

  • Earning capacity, education, employability, and vocational skills

  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage

  • Child care responsibilities

  • Tax consequences of alimony

  • All sources of income

Awarding alimony in a divorce can be a complicated process. Consult an experienced divorce attorney today to see how they can help you with alimony and any other aspects of your divorce.