Types of Alimony in Florida
One prominent issue in many divorces is the issue of alimony. There have been significant changes in the law regarding alimony over the last few years. In addition, with both spouses often entering the workforce, alimony is not as dominant an issue as it once was. Notwithstanding, if you are anticipating divorce, it is important to understand a bit about alimony as most of the public does not know or understand much about alimony in Florida.
Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 61.08, there are multiple types of alimony in Florida, and each type of alimony has a specific set of guidelines and/or restrictions. These major types of alimony are;
Florida Statute Section 61.07 also provides guidelines for temporary alimony, which may be characterized as alimony pendente lite by the Court.
Below is a brief explanation of these types of alimony. Please note, alimony is no longer a taxable event to the receiving spouse nor a deductible event for the payer spouse.
Courts award bridge-the-gap alimony to spouses that need help transitioning from married to single life. As a general matter, a spouse qualifies to receive the bridge-the-gap alimony if the spouse has a legitimate, identifiable short-term need which he/she cannot meet without the other spouse’s help. For instance, one of the spouses may be ordered by the court to support the other as the other spouse secures a new home, utilities, etc.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is non-modifiable in amount or duration. Additionally, an award of this type of alimony may not exceed two years.
In Florida, durational alimony is one of the more complex and inconsistent forms of alimony which can be awarded by the Court. This is because it may be applicable in short or moderate term marriages or even in long term marriages where long term financial assistance is not warranted. In fact, it is typically an alternative to permanent alimony when permanent alimony is not appropriate. This type of alimony can never be in place for a period of time longer than the length of the marriage.
The amount of Durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances; however, the duration or term of this type of alimony can only be modified in exceptional circumstances, and again, the length cannot be modified to exceed the length of the marriage.
Rehabilitative alimony is a very specific type of alimony targeted to assist the supported spouse to become self-sufficient. The requesting spouse must present the Court with a clear and definitive rehabilitative plan. The plan may aim at developing the spouse’s educational credentials, developing technical or other crafts, or otherwise developing employment skills.
It is important to understand that rehabilitative alimony is modifiable upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances, a showing of non-compliance with the rehabilitation plan or the completion of the rehabilitation plan.
In Florida, courts do not easily grant permanent alimony. Judges usually grant permanent alimony to spouses involved in long term marriages and who have not had an opportunity to gain education or employment skills or training. The spouse often sacrificed the personal opportunity to pursue a career and instead, chose to care for the family and household while the other spouse concentrated on his or her career. In these circumstances, the requesting spouse of a long term marriage is often older and does not have adequate time to gain education and employment and earn sufficient income, if any at all. Another example of an award of permanent alimony might be in a marriage where one spouse has medical or other special needs, is disabled, or otherwise requires special care and is unable to become employed. As such, while permanent alimony is more customary in long term marriages, it might also be appropriate in short or moderate term marriages if other factors are met.
As a general rule and apart from special circumstances such as a spouse’s disability, there is a legal presumption that permanent alimony is appropriate if the marriage is at least seventeen years in length if other factors are met. This is a rebuttable presumption.
Permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving spouse. It can also be modified upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship as provided in applicable statutes.
Temporary or Pendente Lite Alimony
Temporary alimony is a type of alimony or spousal support that can be awarded by the Court on a temporary basis while the divorce proceedings are pending. This type of alimony can be awarded even if a spouse is not otherwise qualified for any other type of alimony. It is merely an effort by the Court to maintain the status quo in a marriage while the case is pending.
Contact Us for Assistance Today
Alimony is very complex in Florida and the information herein is general in nature. There are myriad factors which will be considered by the Court when awarding alimony. Therefore, it is important to have competent legal representation. If you need more information, contact our Jacksonville family lawyers at The Lasky Law Firm today and schedule a consultation.