Florida alimony laws contain significant information for people going through a dissolution of marriage. But did you know that alimony in Florida is not fully set out in Florida Statutes like child support is? A large part of the rules and standards for alimony are established through previous cases and not explicitly stated in the Florida Statutes. A family law attorney in St. Petersburg understands how to navigate alimony’s complexity and will utilize their knowledge to advocate for your specific interests.
Major Factor in Florida Alimony Laws
Although not all the rules for alimony are listed in the statutes, there are several requirements listed that the court must consider. The first and most important factor the judge will look at in determining whether alimony payments may be awarded to a party is the length of your marriage. Basically, the longer you have been married, the more likely the alimony will be rewarded.
The Florida Statutes categorize marriages as follows: short-term (0-7 years), moderate-term (7 -17 years), and long-term (17 or more years).
Typically, Florida courts presume that parties in a short-term marriage are not entitled to alimony unless proven otherwise. For a long-term marriage, courts presume that one of the parties will be entitled to alimony. For a moderate-term marriage, there is no presumption for or against alimony. This just means that, if asked for, a court will be more or less inclined to award alimony based on the length of the marriage.
The length of marriage factor in Florida alimony laws covers how likely you are to pay or receive – but not how much the payment(s) will be. Your family law attorney will be able to direct you in regard to the other factors that can influence the amount of an alimony award.
After considering the length of the marriage, the judge will consider the other factors that affect alimony, such as financial standing, needs, and the type of alimony being requested.
Alimony: An Overview of Purposes and Types
Florida alimony laws account for several different types of alimony. The type of alimony will depend on the facts of your case, for the most part. The varying types of alimony have their own distinct purposes and, as a general rule, depending on the length of the marriage, the financial needs and responsibilities of the soon-to-be ex-spouse, and other areas, including physical and emotional health and the readiness/ability to be self-sufficient.
During the dissolution of marriage proceedings, a judge may decide to award Temporary Alimony. Temporary alimony is alimony awarded for the duration of the court proceedings. When the formal dissolution of marriage decree is entered, the temporary alimony is terminated. The court may, however, award a different type of alimony to begin after.
When someone starts a new life without their spouse, Bridge-The-Gap Alimony acts as transitional support for that person to get on their feet. Funds are allocated to the payee to cover identifiable and foreseeable bills. Bridge-the-Gap alimony can be awarded up until two years after the entry of a Final Judgment. It cannot be awarded for longer than two years.
It is not uncommon for a spouse to need additional training or education to become self-sufficient after a dissolution of marriage. Florida alimony laws refer to alimony awarded for this purpose as Rehabilitative Alimony. This type of dissolution of marriage alimony requires specific plans, including costs associated with vocational training or other educational pursuits, estimated time to complete the courses and/or apprenticeships, and the estimated length of time until the person expects to become self-sufficient. Rehabilitative alimony can be modified or terminated if the party receiving the alimony fails to comply with their plan of action; for example: if a person receiving rehabilitative alimony drops out of the educational program they were attending, the payor can request modification or termination of the alimony.
The judge may decide to award Durational Alimony to spouses who have been married for fewer than 7 or up to 17 years. When other options are not appropriate for the circumstances, the courts can require a certain (set) amount for a certain period that is not to exceed the marriage length. If there is a significant change in either party’s circumstances, a petition can be made for changes by one or the other ex-spouse. A note: changes to the agreement of dissolution of marriage alimony will not apply to the length of time – only to the amount of funds provided.
When a marriage lasts at least 17 years, Permanent Alimony may be awarded to one of the ex-spouses. This option is rarely used for marriages shorter than 17 years. Permanent alimony is awarded under subjective terms by the court and is only awarded where the Court determines that no other type of alimony would be sufficient to meet the party’s needs. Permanent alimony can be modified in the event of remarriage, supportive relationships, or substantial financial changes.
Additional Factors That Can Affect Alimony
Florida alimony laws, as mentioned above, do not have specific or concrete guidelines to follow when awarding dissolution of marriage alimony, including why it is awarded and when it may end. You will work closely with your family law attorney – whether you are determined to be the payer or the payee – each step of the way when the courts are considering alimony. Your attorney will ensure your voice and interests are advocated for in your case.
Some of the additional factors that are important in Florida alimony laws include any supportive relationships, such as the ex-spouse pooling resources with a new roommate to share expenses. Typically, alimony ends when the spouse that is receiving it enters a new marriage.
Child support is considered separate from alimony, but the courts can take into consideration any child support orders and use that information to decide if the payee could afford to pay alimony on top of child support.
Adultery may influence a judge’s decision, particularly if a significant amount of funds were involved, including extravagant gifts that could have negatively affected the other spouse.
Employability is another factor that the courts may consider. This can affect different types of alimony, including Rehabilitative Alimony and Permanent Alimony. Suppose major changes occur for either ex-spouse in income (significant increases) or the ability to earn an income (significant decreases) due to health or other reasons allowed within Florida alimony laws. In that case, petitions for change can be entered.
Golden Key Law: Experts in Florida Alimony Laws
During the challenging time of a dissolution of marriage, choose an expert, compassionate family law attorney in St. Petersburg, FL, to stand up for your interests. At Golden Key Law, we listen closely to our clients and have an in-depth understanding of Florida alimony laws to represent their needs.
We have skill in the nuances of negotiations and how to present your case to the judge when you are in the middle of a contested dissolution of marriage. We take the time to review your case’s details to develop a strategy to execute your goals.
Our attorneys are dedicated to fighting hard for you each step of the way.
Contact us today at 727-317-4738 to schedule a consultation.