Does The Length Of Marriage Affect Alimony
Permanent alimony or long durational alimony awards are usually reserved for long-term or moderate-term marriages. Generally, short-term marriages are only eligible for short-term forms of alimony. Under Florida law, a short-term marriage is a marriage lasting less than seven years. A moderate-term marriage is classified as a marriage lasting between 7 and 17 years. A marriage lasting longer than 17 years is considered a long-term marriage. See Fichtel v. Fichtel.
Types Of Alimony In Florida
Under Florida divorce law, there are five types of award alimony. A judge may award any combination of these types of alimony payments, which may be made periodically or in one lump sum. The types of awarding alimony are determined by how long the payments will last.
Overview Of Alimony In Florida Divorces
When two spouses divorce in Florida, the court may order one ex-spouse to pay the other alimony.Alimony or spousal support, as it is sometimes called is typically money paid by one spouse to the other and meant to support and provide for the other spouse for a period of time. The court can fashion an alimony award so that the spouse receiving the alimony can enjoy a standard of living that he or she was accustomed to during the marriage, so he or she can go back to school or complete a job training program, or to provide for his or her needs until he or she can get back on his or her feet following the divorce.
A court has a great deal of discretion in awarding alimony to an ex-spouse. Whereas child support orders are calculated according to a specific, statutorily-defined formula, a court can consider a number of factors in determining whether any alimony is appropriate in a given case and, if so, what type and what amount of alimony should be awarded. An ex-spouse who understands the purposes of alimony and the factors a court considers when awarding alimony can anticipate whether the court in his or her case will award any alimony.
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Factors In The Award Of Alimony
If one of the parties to the marriage committed adultery, the court may take this into account and consider the circumstances surrounding the adultery. The court will consider financial matters when setting alimony, including:
- The standard of living that each spouse enjoyed during the marriage
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age of each spouse and any physical and emotional impairments that may hinder earning capacity and economic needs
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- The economic position of each of the spouses, including marital and non-marital assets that are being distributed or retained under the divorce decree and the assumption of any debt incurred during the marriage
- Whether or not each spouse will require additional education or career training in order to find a job that will enable that spouse to support him or herself
- What contributions each spouse made to the marriage, both financial and otherwise, including:
Salary and other financial contributions
Support of a spouse in obtaining education and
Assisting a spouse in building a business or career.
Factors In Spousal Support / Alimony Determinations
The court will take various factors into consideration when determining an alimony award. These factors are:
Also, although Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to divorces, the spouses’ fault, or lack thereof, may be assessed or factored into the court’s decision when awarding alimony.
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Determining How Long Alimony Will Be Paid:
The length of time the alimony payments last depends on the specifics of the support needed, but will vary significantly between courthouses and judges, which is why some states base the duration upon statutory formulas. Sometimes, the alimony will stop after a period of time deemed necessary for the spouse to become self-supporting. In other cases, the alimony will be paid over a much longer duration.
As a rule of thumb, alimony is usually not going to be longer than half the length of the marriage in marriages lasting less than ten years, but as the marriage gets longer, the duration the alimony payments last typically extends.
Although permanent alimony still exists in many states, the term is somewhat of a misnomer. As explained below, alimony payments usually stop once the person paying alimony gets to retirement age, or upon other major life events.
Divorce In Florida Alimony
Florida divorce alimony laws provide for certain provisions that the parties can agree to. Note that the parties can agree that alimony will be non-modifiable. Such a provision must be clearly stated in a Florida Marital Settlement Agreement for example. There is a downside however to making alimony non-modifiable. For example, let’s say a party agrees to pay their spouse a certain amount of money for a specific period of time. And after the payments begin the paying spouse loses their job and their income is either gone or reduced. They would still be obligated to pay the alimony under the original terms because it was non-modifiable. And if the receiving party’s financial need increases subsequent to the commencement of payments, they would not have the ability to ask for an increase in alimony because it was non-modifiable. Sometimes it’s wise for the payor to insist for example that if their spouse gets remarried, that alimony ceases. A provision to make alimony non-modifiable should state for example that it is non-modifiable as to amount and duration, and in every other regard, for any reason whatsoever.
Is The Alimony Award Appropriate
Before a court order for alimony, it has to be the most appropriate choice. Most people believe that women always fall on the receiving end. However, this is no longer the case. With women becoming primary breadwinners of almost a third of families, they now pay for child support and alimony. You also need to understand that alimony award is different from child support or pet support.
How Is Alimony Calculated In Florida
The two primary factors the court must consider in determining the amount of alimony are the need of the payee spouse and the ability of the paying spouse to pay. The court may impute income to a spouse who is earning less than the spouse is capable of earning through his or her best efforts.
To impute income means that the court will pretend that the spouse is earning a certain amount of income for purposes of calculating the amount of alimony needed or the amount the paying spouse is able to pay.
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Work Out An Agreement With Your Spouse
While obvious, consider trying to work out an divorce agreement with your spouse before beginning a divorce process.
Ideally, you have a prenuptial agreement that protects you in place. If not you may be eligible to work out a postnuptial agreement with your spouse.
A postnuptial agreement is a contract signed after marriage that spells out issues like alimony that would be triggered by a future divorce.
Florida Judges love contracts. If you and your spouse sign a prenuptial agreement that passes legal muster then your alimony issue can be decided in advance. In a way that fits your alimony goals.
Even if your divorce is already filed you still can work out an agreement with your spouse. Usually, a simple kitchen table discussion at the beginning of the case will let you know if you can work out a beneficial alimony agreement.
Who Pays Spousal Support In Florida
Florida courts consider many factors when determining which spouse, if any, has to pay spousal support and how much they have to pay. Some of those factors include:
- The length of the marriage
- The spouses standard of living during the marriage
- Whether a spouse gave up certain opportunities for the sake of the marriage
- The spouses health
- Whether there was abuse or domestic violence.
The spouses lawyers make arguments regarding these factors and other factors that are relevant to the spousal support issue. In the end, it is up to the judge to determine a spousal support situation that is fair to the spouses.
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Alimony In Florida Guide: Divorce & Family Law
Alimony is financial support provided to an ex-spouse to help maintain the standard of living maintained during the marriage. There are many different types of alimony in Florida, which vary in amount, form, and duration. The amount and duration of alimony in Florida are determined on a case-by-case basis. If you are seeking alimony in Florida or trying to prevent paying alimony, contact a divorce law firm in Tampa for help. A skilled Tampa divorce lawyer can make a big difference in if and how much alimony is awarded. Nobody likes paying for an attorney, but in some cases, it can save a lot of money in the long run.
The policy behind alimony is to alleviate the financial disparity between the two parties. When determining alimony that should be awarded, Florida family law courts look at one spouses ability to pay vs. the other spouses need for alimony. If permanent alimony is awarded, the alimony payment should be sufficient to support the spouses standard of living.
There are many factors that a judge may consider when determining alimony in Florida is appropriate. If alimony is appropriate, the court will have to determine the durational alimony amount to bridge the gap. Regardless, alimony may not leave the person paying alimony with significantly less net income than the recipients net income.
Who Is Entitled To Alimony In Florida
The overriding legislative intent in establishing alimony law is that the State of Florida does not want to support an impecunious spouse by way of welfare, food stamps, and the like. Therefore, courts will look to the breadwinning spouse to ensure that the other spouse does not go homeless or without basic living necessities.
What this has translated to by way of laws and judicial interpretation is that there are two spouses who enjoyed a certain standard of living throughout the marriage, and, upon dissolution of that marriage, both spouses should continue to enjoy that same standard of living.
To the extent that one spouse cannot afford that established standard of living with his or her own income, the other spouse must provide supplemental income. Of course, what usually occurs upon dissolution of marriage is that the standard of living enjoyed by two people in the same household will go down when there are two households to maintain.
In determining whether to award alimony in Florida, the court will first make a determination as to need and ability to pay and then the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
The standard of living established during the marriage
The duration of the marriage
The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party
The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and marital assets and liabilities distributed to each
All sources of income available to either party.
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This Legal Update Dramatically Changed How Alimony Works In Florida
While Senate Bill 718, more commonly referred to as the Alimony Bill, affected more than just alimony, the change it had was significant enough to keep the majority of the public focus on that aspect. This law, which came into effect on July 1, 2013, placed priority on awardingbridge-the-gap alimony first, orrehabilitative alimony if that wasnt a suitable option over any other type of alimony offered in Florida. This could change depending on the actions of state legislators, but its important to understand how the courts will handle alimony decisions if you are in the process of filing for divorce.
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Divorce is a complicated and stressful process to manage, and it can become even more confusing if you dont have a complete understanding of the laws in place. At Givens Law Group, our attorneys have decades of collective years of experience, and are passionate about providing each client we accept with the knowledgeable representation they need to secure the legal outcome they deserve. If you are in need of an attorney, reach out to us today to discuss your case.
Determining The Amount Of Alimony:
With several notable exceptions and limitations, the amount of alimony is typically a mathematical function of the cost for the spouse to live after the divorce minus the amount of money the spouse seeking alimony can earn if maximizing their employment potential.
Further, alimony typically cannot be awarded in an amount that leaves the spouse paying alimony with less cash flow than the spouse receiving alimony. Also, in jurisdictions where alimony is not determined by a formula, there are usually some customary rules of thumb maximums for alimony.
As an example, in Florida alimony will rarely exceed 40% of the gross income of the spouse paying alimony in long term marriages, and in marriages lasting less than seven years the amount of alimony will usually not exceed 20% of the gross income of the spouse paying alimony. The bottom line is that you need to speak with an attorney in your local area to get a better feel for what type of alimony you might realistically expect to pay or receive, as the amount can vary by jurisdiction and between judges.
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How Does Alimony Work In Florida
The first thing one should know about alimony in Florida is that there is no mathematical calculation in determining alimony such as there is with calculating child support.
The court has broad discretion to decide entitlement to alimony, the amount of alimony, the duration of alimony, and the type of alimony. There are, however, perimeters to which the court is bound.
Child Support Vs Alimony
Some ex-spouses may be dismayed to learn that the court can order one spouse to pay alimony and child support, assuming that the divorcing couple has children. The obligor spouse may feel this is inappropriate since his or her ex-spouse is essentially being paid twice. It must be remembered, though, that child support are payments that are made to help pay for the costs of raising children , whereas alimony is for the benefit of the receiving spouse. Because each type of support is meant for a different person, a court is free to award both types of support.
Remember, though, that while child support must be awarded in any divorce case in which there is at least one minor child, an alimony award is discretionary and a court has the freedom to award alimony in an amount it feels appropriate based upon the facts and factors before the court.
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Florida Divorce Alimony Laws
According to Florida divorce alimony laws, when a party believes that they have a need for financial assistance from the other party, alimony can be requested. As with child support, the Court can award temporary alimony until the final divorce hearing is held, at which time a final alimony amount may be ordered. An alimony determination will factor in the length of the marriage. “There is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater.”1
Divorce Adultery And Alimony Requests In Florida
Florida Statute 61.09 states that a paying spouse may be liable to pay alimony even if the couple is not divorced. The state doesnt recognize legal separation, unlike many states. However, alimony can still be pursued even if a couple is not legally divorced. The alimony under this statute supports the continuation of the marriage and provides a possibility of reconciliation in the future .
A married couple still has a legal duty to help each other financially. That means a court may still order spousal support even if the couple is separated. The amount of alimony should be appropriate to the standard of living that the receiving party enjoyed during the couples marriage .
For filing a divorce in Florida, the state law requires at least one of the spouses to be a state resident for six months before the divorce petition. However, when talking about durational alimony requirements, residency is not necessary .
The state of Florida is known as a no-fault divorce state. This means under the states divorce law, an individual doesnt need to provide or prove any reason, such as adultery, to facilitate a divorce. So, the act of cheating, for instance, will play a minor role in a permanent alimony request.
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