Divorce is a major life-changer and difficult challenge to face reality, both emotionally and practically. One of which spouse may find herself or himself in a different financial situation than the other. For this reason, alimony may be considered to award to the less financially equipped spouse to level the playing field and give justice following the finalization of the divorce.
What is Alimony and What is its Purpose?
Under Florida law, alimony or also known as maintenance is a legal obligation of the spouse to provide a monetary award to his or her other half for some time before or after marital separation or divorce.
It is a system through which a spouse with greater financial available means supports the other spouse until he or she can support him or herself:
- providing assistance to the other spouse with the same standard of living during the marriage
- enabling the other spouse to get education program to get a higher income after the divorce
- providing basic needs after a divorce like a place of residence or food necessities
Types of Alimony
Typically, under Florida divorce law, below are the types of alimony that may be awarded. The duration of payment depends on the type of alimony. However, a court may award one or a combination of these alimonies, and payments.
1. Temporary Alimony – also known as alimony pendent lite, awarded during the marital separation proceeding and stops when the final judgment is given.
2. Bridge-the-gap Alimony – provides the other spouse assistance to transition to single life which includes bills and other foreseeable expenses. The alimony ends upon the death of either the receiving or paying spouse.
3. Rehabilitative Alimony – the same as bridge-the-gap alimony as to its goals. This alimony focuses on the spouse pursuing an educational program or vocational skill training needed for employment purposes and self-sufficiency. Considerations like the time plan of the educational program and the specific plan to take are accounted for.
4. Durational Alimony – alimony for short-term or moderate-term marriages. It pre-determines the amount of time for the alimony which depends on the length of the marriage. The ending of this alimony is the same as the bridge-the-gap alimony.
5. Permanent Alimony– alimony for moderate or long-term marriages. Usually, the duration of this alimony is either until death or remarriage.
Factors in the Award of Alimony
1. Age of both spouses.
2. Economic position of each of the spouses.
3. If requiring education or career training for a new job and self-sufficiency.
4. Standard of living of both spouses during the marriage.
5. Physical and emotional impairments.
6. Duration of marriage:
- Short-term marriage – 1 to 7 years
- Moderate-term marriage – 7 to 17 years
- Long-term marriage – 17 or more years
7. Contributions of each spouse as to:
- salary and other contributions
- support of a spouse in building a business or career
- child care
support of a spouse in obtaining education
Other Factors Affecting Alimony Awards
There are several factors affecting alimony awards changes like from the amount of alimony the spouse receives to cancellation of the alimony.
- For spouses with rehabilitative alimony, going back to school can be changed or stopped if the spouse fails to finish the school program or course.
- If the receiving spouse of the alimony is in a better financial position due to employment status change or with a bigger salary, the alimony from the other spouse may be lessened.
- For spouses who are in a ‘supportive relationship’ like living with a person who can support the rent and non-financial burdens, the alimony to the said spouse may be reduced or terminated.
- If the paying spouse is in financial trouble or there is a decrease in earning potential, the alimony may be reduced.
- For spouses receiving permanent or durational alimony who holds themselves or as being married or remarries, the alimony is terminated.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What happens if my ex-spouse fails to pay spousal maintenance?
If the ex-spouse failed to pay the alimony, the receiving spouse can file a motion for contempt and sanctions against the ex-spouse which includes paying your attorney’s fees, an income deduction order, or liquidation of assets.
If filed for criminal sanctions, and found willfully violated a court order, the ex-spouse will be in jail, required to enter a purge amount and pay before the ex-spouse can get out of jail.
- Can the duration of marriage affect alimony?
Yes. For long-term marriages, a marriage lasting longer than 17 years, is eligible for long-term forms of alimony. Also, for moderate-term marriages, a marriage lasting between 7 and 17 years, permanent or long durational alimony is awarded. And for short-term marriages, marriage less than seven years, short-term alimony is applied.
- Is it possible to change the amount of alimony or spousal support?
Yes. The alimony award may be changed during the proceedings. While the proceedings are pending, the judge may make changes like decrease, increase or terminate the alimony award. In most cases like the paying spouse may have been terminated on his job or the receiving spouse has a got employed.
- Can I be awarded alimony without filing a divorce?
Yes. Under Florida Statute 61.09, a spouse can be awarded and paid for the alimony without getting divorced. Florida does not recognize legal separation, so for separated couples, alimony is still required. The alimony under this statute acknowledges the marriage and spousal rights, for the possibility of reconciliation.
- What if my ex-spouse committed adultery, can the alimony be affected?
Yes. If the other spouse committed adultery during marriage, the judge may consider all accounts and circumstances surrounding the adultery.
Florida's Trusted Leading Family Law Attorney | Mellany Marquez-Kelly
Mellany Marquez-Kelly is a caring and compassionate family law firm that provides divorce and alimony services in Florida. Divorce is a complex and confusing legal process that needs protecting rights and upholding them, particularly alimony awards or spousal supports.
Mellany Marquez-Kelly is a highly experienced divorce attorney and a master of the ins and outs of divorce proceedings helps and ensures your welfare, rights, and interests are completely protected.
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