Understanding Alimony in Florida

Different states have different standards for alimony – also known as “spousal support” – and Florida is no exception.

Before awarding alimony, the Court must first make a determination of need and ability to pay; i.e., a party seeking alimony must show their need for the alimony and the other party’s ability to pay alimony.

The Court then examines the length of the marriage. There is a presumption that a short-term marriage is less than 7 years; a moderate-term marriage is more than 7 years but less than 17 years; and a long-term marriage is longer than 17 years. Then the Court considers a list of factors including, but not limited to, standard of living developed during the marriage; age and physical condition of each party; financial resources; earning capacities, and contribution of each party to the marriage.

The four types of alimony awarded in Florida are:

Bridge-the-gap alimony which assists a party in making the transition from married life to single life and may not exceed a period of 2 years.

Rehabilitative alimony which pays for education, training, and other assistance to enable a person to become self-supporting, and requires a specific plan that must be followed.

Durational alimony is awarded when permanent alimony would be inappropriate. It is generally awarded to parties for a set time following a marriage of short or moderate duration.

Permanent alimony is generally awarded in long-term marriages and is given to parties who lack the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a divorce. It is terminated at the death of either party or upon remarriage of the receiving party.

These descriptions are abbreviated due to space restrictions. The Florida Legislature has considered sweeping changes to the alimony laws for several years. So, if you are contemplating a divorce, see a qualified family law attorney to gain an understanding of your rights and obligations.