Married people have a legal obligation to support each other financially. Sometimes that obligation continues after the marriage ends and the spouse with more financial resources might have to continue to support the spouse with less.
Money that one spouse pays to another after they stop living together is called maintenance or alimony. Whether you hope to receive alimony or to avoid paying any, a Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer can help you. An experienced family attorney can present evidence to persuade a Judge to your position regarding these payments.
Florida Alimony Basics
If a spouse wants alimony, a Fort Lauderdale attorney can help them request it. A Judge will only award alimony if the requesting spouse can prove it is appropriate in their case.
The requesting spouse must first prove they need the ongoing support to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. Florida law aims for a person’s lifestyle to not be significantly different than it was before divorce.
However, the law also requires the spouse requesting alimony to prove that the paying spouse has enough resources to pay it. If an alimony obligation leaves the paying spouse without enough money to maintain a separate household, a Judge will not award it even if the other spouse demonstrates a need for it. The receiving spouse’s net income after alimony cannot be higher than the paying spouse’s net income unless the court finds there are special circumstances.
Different Kinds of Spousal Support
When a couple first begins living apart and one spouse files for divorce, the court might order the higher-earning spouse to pay temporary alimony to the other spouse. These payments are not technically alimony—they are just to help the person with less money set up an independent household.
If the Judge orders support payments after the divorce is final, those payments are considered alimony. Florida Statute § 61.08 allows several different kinds of alimony and a Fort Lauderdale attorney can explain which option a Judge will most likely consider in a specific case.
This type of alimony helps a spouse transition from being married to being single and it can last up to two years. The parties cannot modify a bridge-the-gap alimony order. These payments end when either party dies, the receiving spouse remarries, or when the court’s order expires.
The type of spousal support gives the receiving spouse time to get more education, training, or skills to become self-supporting. The recipient must have a plan to become self-supporting and follow that plan. If the paying spouse believes the recipient spouse is not making proper efforts to become employable, they could ask the court to modify or terminate the alimony. The recipient could ask to extend alimony if issues beyond their control interrupted the plan.
This form of alimony is for people married less than 17 years if the less wealthy spouse can support themselves or could regain the capacity after a relatively short period. A court will decide how long the obligation to pay alimony will extend and the obligation cannot exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent alimony is rare, but courts will award it if one spouse cannot support themselves. Courts award it most often for people in long marriages who did not pursue a career during the marriage or when a spouse’s age or health prevents them from returning to the workforce and earning a living.
Factors That Influence Alimony Orders
The Judge considers multiple factors when deciding what kind of alimony to award and how much the payments should be. One of the most important considerations is the length of the marriage. The law considers a marriage that lasted less than seven years to be short. If a couple was married between seven and 17 years, the marriage is a moderate length, and a long marriage is one lasting more than 17 years. The longer the marriage, the more likely a Judge will award durational or permanent alimony.
Another important factor is the resources each party will have as they leave the marriage. If a spouse who requested alimony leaves the marriage with substantial property, they will likely receive less alimony for a shorter period. If a spouse leaves the marriage with little property, the court might order the wealthier person to support them longer.
The Judge will consider each party’s mental and physical health and ability to earn a living. If the requesting spouse has primary responsibility for children, a court will take it into account. The Judge might allow a spouse who is providing a home for young children to receive alimony until the youngest child is in school full-time or even longer, depending on the circumstances. A Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney can ensure the court has the information needed to make a fair decision.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Alimony Attorney for Help Today
Alimony is a factor in many divorces. The law does not want a person to struggle to make ends meet but higher-earning spouses might feel taken advantage of when their former partner receive generous alimony.