When our clients start the process of dissolving their marriage in Florida, the topic of alimony and spousal support invariably comes up.
Usually asked in some phrasing of the following questions:
“Can I get alimony from my ex?”
“Will I have to pay my ex alimony?”
Our answer to both questions is:
Florida laws do not provide a guarantee either spouse will be granted alimony or spousal support in cases of divorce.
Below, we’ll try to clear some of the confusion regarding alimony and spousal support in Florida.
However, one thing is clear from our years of family law experience: Without skilled legal representation by your side, the court decision to pay or receive alimony can surprisingly shift from one side to the other.
That decision could affect your life for decades.
Depending on your situation, we work to protect your rights and future by providing the court clear cut answers to the following:
- Do you meet the legal requirement for alimony or spousal support?
- Is the demand for alimony or spousal support unfair and improper?
If you’re considering divorce, please don’t hesitate to seek the guidance of our Family Law Attorney to address any concerns you might have regarding alimony or spousal support.
Feel free to call us for a free consultation at (904) 567-3113 to discuss your situation.
In Florida, What is the Difference Between “Alimony” and “Spousal Support?”
With Florida law, there is no legal difference between “alimony” and “spousal support.”
However, many people consider “spousal support” as payment from one spouse to the other during marriage or divorce proceedings while “alimony” is an obligated payment to a former spouse after divorce.
As mentioned above, that’s not the case legally in Florida. Both terms are used interchangeably.
What is Alimony According to Florida Law?
According to Florida Statutes, alimony is periodic payments or a lump sum payment to either party in a divorce based on a factual determination of:
- Whether either party has an actual need for alimony
- Whether either party has the ability to pay alimony
Basically, the purpose behind alimony is to help alleviate unfair economic burdens of a lower earning spouse during and after a divorce.
What Types of Alimony are Provided in Florida?
The State of Florida provides several types of alimony that can be awarded based on the circumstances of the spouse.
Temporary Alimony (Pendente Lite)
While a divorce is proceeding through the courts, temporary alimony might be awarded when a spouse requires financial support during the process.
Once the divorce is final, this type of alimony ends.
Permanent alimony can be awarded if it’s shown that a spouse lacks the financial ability to be self-supporting or live at the standard established during the marriage.
Judges must state the reason why permanent alimony is awarded in lieu of other types of alimonies. That’s why it’s important to provide courts with factual information this type of alimony is either:
- Fair and reasonable
- Unfair and unreasonable
Durational alimony may be awarded to financially dependent spouses of short-term marriages (7 years or less) or moderate-term marriages (7 to 17 years). Alimony payments are terminated at a pre-determined date and cannot exceed the length of the marriage.
This is short-term alimony designed to provide living expenses for a maximum of two years. The decision of awarding this type of alimony is based on factual short term needs that could include:
- Sale of assets like a house
- Spouse finishing an educational program
- Spouse completing a retraining program to improve employment prospects
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to spouses to help pay for education or training required to gain employment. Before being awarded this type of alimony, the spouse must submit a plan that shows the amount of funds and time required to complete the education or training.
How is Alimony Determined?
The court weighs several factors when determining to award alimony to a spouse.
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Duration of marriage
- Financial resources of each spouse
- Earning capabilities, education levels, vocational skills and employability of each spouse
- Age, physical and emotional condition of each spouse
- Contribution of each spouse to the marriage (including homemaking, child care, education, and career building)
- Responsibilities regarding any minor children
- Tax treatment and consequences to both parties
- Any factor necessary to do equity and justice between spouses
Can Alimony Payments be Modified or Terminated?
A court decision to modify or terminate alimony payments depends on the type of alimony awarded and the circumstances of both parties.
Bridge the Gap alimony cannot be modified either in the amount or duration of payments.
If the awarded spouse fails to comply with or has completed the submitted training and education plan, a court may decide to modify the alimony decision. Additionally, if there has been a significant change of circumstances, courts may consider modifying the alimony.
Payment amounts may be modified due to a substantial change of circumstance. Unless there has been an exceptional change in circumstances, courts rarely modify the length of the award.
Permanent alimony may be terminated upon the death of either party or remarriage of the awarded party. Additionally, alimony may be modified or terminated based on a substantial change.
If Your Ex Gets Remarried
Periodic alimony payments automatically end when the awarded spouse remarries. However, this would not change the obligation for a lump sum alimony payment.
If Your Ex Cohabitates with Another Person
The court may decide to modify or terminate alimony when the awarded spouse moves in with another person based on a number of factors, including:
- If living partners claim aspects of marriage (same last name, same mailing address, etc.)
- Length of time partners lived together
- Financial assistance both partners provide each other
- Whether partners have purchased property together
Significant Circumstances that May Allow Modification or Termination of Alimony
In addition to remarriage, courts may decide to modify or terminate alimony based on other factors, including:
- Health issues
- Long-term unemployment
- Changes in finances of awarded spouse: Gifts, large raise, inheritance, etc.
- Medical insurance
- Decreased ability to make alimony payments
- Cases of fraud in obtaining alimony
Always Involve a Family Law Attorney Regarding Alimony
The court decision to either pay, receive or modify alimony can have a lifelong impact on all parties. Enlisting the guidance of an experienced Family Law Attorney can help you understand your position and develop a game plan for the best possible outcome in your situation.
Please contact a Family Law Attorney from the Fusco Law Group at (904) 567-3113 for a free consultation.