How can I get Alimony in Florida?
In order to make an alimony award, the Florida Courts follow a “checklist” of sorts. Being familiar with the factors that the Court will consider is the best way to prepare yourself, and your case, for a favorable outcome.
First, the Court’s will determine whether or not the person seeking alimony has a true need for the financial support sought and whether or not the other party has a true ability to pay such an award. To aid the Court in making this determination it will evaluate a statutorily mandated list of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to award alimony, which are:
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage (0-7 years is short term, 7-17 years is moderate term, 17+ years is long term);
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of each spouse;
- The financial resources of the parties;
- Each party’s’ earning capacity, employability, and education;
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, which will include contributions within the home or towards the advancement of the other spouse’s career;
- Each spouses responsibility to any minor children then have in common;
- The tax consequences of an alimony award to either spouse;
- All sources of income available to either party; and
- Every lawyers favorite catch-all– any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Once the Court determines that it should make an alimony award, it must determine what type of alimony award to make. In Florida, there are several different types of alimony. Below is a brief synopsis for those of you wondering what type of alimony you may qualify for:
Bridge-the-gap alimony– awarded to assist one spouse in making the transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony cannot be modified in either amount or duration after the Court makes its award. This type of alimony award cannot exceed two years.
Rehabilitative alimony– awarded to assist one spouse in establishing the capacity to be self-sufficient through either the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials or getting the education or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. In order for the Court to make an award of Rehabilitative alimony, you must be able to show the Court that you have a specific and defined rehabilitative plan. This type of alimony can be modified or terminated if the party receiving the alimony is not complying with the plan outlined to the Court.
Durational alimony– awarded to assist one spouse with economic assistance for a set period of time (cannot exceed the length of the marriage). The amount of this type of alimony can be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances of either party but the length of time one party may pay or receive this alimony award cannot be modified except under exceptional circumstances.
Permanent alimony– awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage to the party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her own needs of life following divorce. This type of award can only be made when the Court finds that no other form of alimony is reasonable under the circumstances of the parties. A Permanent alimony award can be modified or terminated upon a substantial change in circumstances OR upon the existence of a supportive relationship, i.e. the party receiving alimony moves in with a new paramour and is supported financially by this new love interest.
As you have read, alimony in Florida can take many forms, but what it can never be is a form of punishment. You will not be more likely, or less likely, to receive an alimony award or to be court-ordered to pay an alimony award, because of your behavior during the marriage or because of the reasons leading up to your divorce. Florida is commonly considered a “no fault” state and, frankly, the Court will care very little for the “why’s” of the breakdown of your marriage, at least when it comes to deciding if it is going to make an alimony award.
If you are interested in discussing the possibility of asserting an alimony claim in your divorce, an experienced family law attorney from Crawford, Modica, and Holt would be pleased to sit down with you and discuss all of your options.