Even those divorcing couples who have agreed on other major issues such as custody of children and division of property may be unable to agree on whether (and how much) one spouse must pay the other spousal support (also known as “alimony”).
Generally, a judge may enter an order requiring payment only when he or she finds that:
- One spouse is in need of financial support; and
- The other is able to provide it.
Under Florida law, the court will make this determination by applying a series of factors. Some of the more important ones are:
- The standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage
- The length of time the couple was married
- The age and health of both parties
- All income sources for both parties
- Each party’s contribution to the marriage
- Each party’s marital and non-marital assets
- If either is not currently employed, his or her ability to gain employment
However, these considerations are not precise formulas. While an alimony award generally may not leave the paying party with significantly less income than the receiving party, the court has wide discretion in crafting what it considers a fair order. As a result, predicting whether the judge in your case will award alimony and, if so, the amount of the award, can be a challenge. One judge may award alimony to a spouse who has been supported by his or her spouse for several years while another would consider that same individual to be capable of finding employment and supporting himself or herself after the divorce.
In addition to setting the amount of the award, the court may also impose different time limits. Depending upon the particular circumstances of each case, the court may award one or a combination of these forms of alimony.
- A so-called “bridge-the-gap” award is made most often in marriages of shorter duration. It is meant to help a spouse with demonstrated needs during his or her transition from a marriage in which a spouse was the principal source of support.
- As the name suggests, the purpose of “rehabilitative” alimony is to enable the recipient to either develop or reestablish employment skills or credentials or to gain necessary work experience. “Durational” alimony is meant to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period.
- In appropriate cases, an alimony award can be permanent, though it may be modified later if either or both parties’ financial circumstances change. Finally, the court can order that alimony be paid in a lump sum if the paying spouse has assets available but no regular income from which to draw.
As you can see, this is a complex area of the law, and one in which there is truly no substitute for a careful review of both your and your spouse’s financial circumstances by an experienced family law attorney. The lawyers of Orner Law, LLC regularly advise South Florida residents on a wide range of alimony and spousal support issues. Whether you expect to receive or pay spousal support, we will fight to get you the fairest and most reasonable order possible.
If you have any questions about spousal support, alimony or maintenance in regard to your Florida divorce, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to meet with you and will discuss with you during your initial consultation.
Contact A South Florida Alimony Lawyer About Your Case
With offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Orner Law, LLC serves clients throughout South Florida.
Our divorce lawyers have over 50 years of collective legal experience to put to work on your case. For more information about spousal support in Florida, contact a South Florida alimony lawyer at Orner Law, LLC today!