Alimony or Spousal Support in Divorce Cases in Fort Myers, Florida
Is Alimony Always Awarded in a Divorce Cases?
When considering divorce, clients have queries about alimony – if they’ll receive support or be the one to pay it. Alimony is not automatic, nor mandatory in every divorce. There are various factors that the court investigates to determine if it’s necessary to grant alimony to either spouse. If a spouse requests alimony, and the judge finds it necessary, then the court will assess both party’s ability to pay, and the higher-earning spouse may be required to pay the support.
What Is Alimony and How Does It Work?
Under Florida law, Alimony is defined as the “maintenance” or “spousal support” of a party to another. This can be temporary, if the divorce is pending, or permanent if it is part of the divorce mandate. Alimony is granted in cases where long-timed married spouses have a disparity of earning power, as it is designed to equalize the financial standings of both parties.
Some state laws forbid alimony grants except if the divorcing couple has been in matrimony for a particular amount of time. The length of the marriage of the said couple is vital in deciding the alimony. This can be categorized into three parts:
- Short Term – A marriage that lasted fewer than seven years
- Moderate Term – A marriage that lasts 7 or more years, but fewer than seventeen years
- Long Term – A marriage that lasts 17 or more years
If alimony is granted, it can be awarded in a lump sum, paid every month, be a mixture of the two, or a property transfer. Alimonies in the form of lump sums and property transfers cannot be revoked and changed, this means that they are permanent and non-modifiable. A monthly alimony grant will conclude on a mandated date by the judge, or when a circumstance listed below has occurred:
- Moves in with another partner
- Substantially increases income, assets, and/or property
- Intentionally avoids obtaining a job or becoming self-sufficient
- Experiences economic hardship for various reasons including making payments at such amounts
- Retires due to a circumstance below:
- Beyond the age of retirement
- General health status
- Involuntary retirement due to employer
- Intentional retirement to revoke alimony grants in advance (judge decides alimony is no longer needed)
Divorce Alimony Rules
For spouses claiming to receive support, the basis for alimony grant qualification is determined by observing income, or income ability if unemployed. This equates to potential in earning, and not essentially how much money is earned at working hours. The judge evaluates future earning capacity.
Alterations to life and work may also be required. If a spouse’s full or part-time job doesn’t pay well, they may be mandated to acquire a full-time job in a higher-salary field. A vocational expert is hired to determine a spouse’s ability to earn an income through a rigorous evaluation of the person’s education, job skills, and work history, as well as an assessment of open job positions in the area.
Alimony Tax Impacts
As part of the United States tax overhaul in 2017, alimony payments are no longer tax-deductible for the paying spouse and alimony payments received do not count as taxable income for the supported spouse. These new tax rules apply to any alimony agreement or divorce order issued after December 31, 2018.
These alterations benefit the supported spouses while the paying spouse loses tax benefits of those payments.
Enforcing an Alimony Award
The paying spouse is required to pay whenever the payment is due. Refusing the required alimony payment can be held in contempt of court. The supported spouse can file a show-cause motion against the paying spouse.
The court may set a hearing to figure out why payments are not made. The court can mandate the paying spouse to retroactively pay the alimony to recompense missed payments. Penalties and fines may be faced by the paying spouse for failing to pay the alimony, and meeting the conditions of the divorce mandate.
Contact Florida’s Most Trusted Family Law Attorney | Marquez Kelly-Law
When it comes to divorce and alimony legal services, trust the leading family law attorney in Fort Myers, Florida – Mellany Marquez-Kelly
Marquez Kelly-Law | Fort Myers, Florida
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