Sometimes when a marriage ends, one spouse is left with less money than the other. If the poorer spouse is likely to have trouble supporting themselves without help, a Judge could order the wealthier spouse to pay alimony.
You should discuss alimony with a local family attorney. A Little Gables alimony lawyer could explain how a Judge decides whether to award alimony and what you could reasonably expect in your particular case.
Judges Consider Multiple Factors When Awarding Alimony
A Judge does not have to award alimony but if a spouse requests it then they may consider it. The Judge must determine whether the spouse requesting alimony truly needs it and, if so, whether the other spouse can afford to pay it. If the requesting spouse cannot demonstrate need or the paying spouse can show they cannot afford to pay it, the Judge might decide not to award alimony.
In determining whether to award alimony, how much to award, and how long the payments should last, Judges weigh many considerations. Florida Statute § 61.08 describes the factors that could influence an alimony award:
- Length of the marriage;
- Each spouse’s age, physical condition, and mental health;
- Each spouse’s education and work history;
- Contributions each spouse made to the marriage, including homemaking, child rearing, and support of the other spouse’s education and career;
- Value of the personal property each spouse will take from the marriage;
- Lifestyle the couple enjoyed during the marriage;
- Whether either spouse will be primary caretaker of minor children.
A Judge could also consider any other obstacles that would prevent the poorer spouse from supporting themselves. A spouse should speak with a Little Gables attorney about how any fact or event might impact an alimony award in their specific case.
Three Types of Alimony
The law, which was amended in 2023, allows three types of alimony: bridge-the-gap, durational, and rehabilitative. The type of alimony the court awards depends on the length of the marriage and other factors, and sometimes a Judge awards more than one type of alimony. Tax considerations often factor into the Judge’s decision, so it is important to work with a Little Gables alimony attorney who is knowledgeable about the tax issues that come up in divorce cases.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is appropriate when a couple has been married only a short time. It gives the less wealthy partner a chance to establish their own household when a marriage breaks down but the payments end after a maximum of two years.
A receiving spouse emerging from a longer marriage could receive durational alimony for a set period that depends on how long they were married. If the marriage lasts for more than three but less than ten years, durational alimony is available for no more than 50 percent of the length of the marriage. The percentages increase to 60 percent for marriages that endure 10 to 20 years, and 75 percent for marriages of more than 20 years.
Rehabilitative alimony allows a spouse to receive financial support while they engage in education or skills training to allow them to become self-supporting. The receiving spouse must have a rehabilitation plan and generally cannot receive rehabilitative alimony for more than five years.
Terminating or Modifying Spousal Support
The Judge’s order awarding alimony will include a termination date. In addition, the obligation to make periodic alimony payments ends if the receiving spouse remarries before the alimony termination date. However, if the receiving spouse got a lump sum alimony payment, they do not need to return any of that money even if they remarry.
Sometimes one of the parties wants to change the alimony arrangement. An amendment to a durational or rehabilitative alimony order is possible if the spouse can prove that a change in circumstances makes the current arrangement impossible or unfair. Changes that might justify changing an alimony order include long-term or permanent job loss, severe or chronic health issues, and significant improvement in the receiving spouse’s financial condition.
If the receiving spouse does not remarry but cohabitates with a romantic partner, the paying spouse could ask the Judge to terminate alimony. The Judge will look at how long the couple has been living together, whether they are providing financial support to each other, and other factors. A Little Gables attorney can explain whether the evidence might be sufficient to justify terminating an alimony award.
Resolve Your Financial Disputes With a Little Gables Alimony Attorney Today
If you are divorcing, a Judge’s decision about alimony could impact your life for years. Knowing what you can expect is critical. A Little Gables alimony lawyer can provide the information you need and will fight hard to support your position. Call today for a free case evaluation and get started with The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm.