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How Does Alimony Work In Florida

What Are The Different Types Of Alimony

Divorce: How Does Alimony Work in Florida

Most states break down alimony into at least a few different types, each with its own intended purpose and duration. While states define these differently, there is significant overlap in how they are often categorized. Common among states is durational alimony, structured by a specific length of time for which support is deemed necessary. Also common is rehabilitative alimony, where payments are provided to allow the recipient to obtain education, training or work experience so they can become self-supporting.

Many states permit permanent alimony intended for spouses who are disabled, elderly or chronically ill. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many also delineate short-term or transitional forms of alimony that support only very limited needs during or immediately following a divorce.

Also available in some states is reimbursement alimony, which compensates for specific contributions a spouse made to their marriage , potentially even through a one-time alimony payment.

How Does Fault Factor Into An Alimony Determination

Sometimes a client will ask us whether fault enters into the calculation of alimony. It is true that some states will award a spouse receiving alimony a greater amount if the paying spouse was at fault in the breakdown of the marriage. Florida does not use alimony as a punishment to a party who had an affair or gambled away marital assets.

That is not to say that Florida courts cannot consider fault when making an alimony determination, but it is not done to punish the paying spouse. Instead, courts may award a dependent spouse a larger support award in order to be fair and equitable. If the spouse paying alimony had an affair, and took the affair partner on expensive trips, bought them jewelry, or otherwise spent marital assets on them, they might end up paying more in alimony. The increased payments wouldn’t be to punish the spouse who strayed but to help compensate the other spouse for the lost marital assets.

What Is A Long

Restated, what do the Florida courts consider a marriage that is of a significant length so that it renders a spouse eligible for alimony if Florida? While the statutes set forth guidelines that define a short-term marriage as being less than 7 years, a moderate term as more than 7 but less than 17 years, and a long-term marriage of over 17 years, these are not hard and fast rules. Some family courts consider anything over 10 years to be a long-term marriage. However, many courts opt to award alimony if the parties meet the requirements for a marriage lasting anywhere from 7 years. The duration of a marriage is calculated from the date of the of the nuptials until the date of filing the petition for dissolution of marriage.

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Child Support And Alimony

Most paying parties look at child support and alimony as the same thing. However, the court looks at these things separately.

Alimony is the obligation a paying spouse needs to fulfill to their ex-spouse to help them get back on their feet. On the other hand, child support is the amount involved in raising a child. This covers food expenses, clothes, and other essential things a child needs to grow. If children are involved, courts can order child support and alimony simultaneously.

Determining When Alimony Payments Change Or Stop Completely:

How Does Child Support Work In Florida

It is almost always the case that alimony payments terminate upon either spouses death or upon the alimony recipient getting remarried, or in some cases, cohabitating.

Further, there are provisions in Florida Alimony Law that allows alimony to be reduced or terminated upon the person paying alimony reaching a reasonable retirement age and actually retiring.

Otherwise, most jurisdictions have laws allowing alimony to increase or decrease upon a showing of a substantial, unanticipated, change in circumstances, such as losing a job or suffering a health condition that increases their need for alimony or ability to pay alimony.

Although, in theory, alimony is almost always subject to change, be mindful that in practice, it is burdensome and expensive to change the amount of alimony.

For this reason, it is critical to ensure the original alimony award is realistic and sufficient when your case is settled. It is asking for trouble to agree to an unrealistic or insufficient alimony award with the thought that you will simply go and change alimony later.

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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.

Can You Terminate Or Modify Alimony In Florida

Obligor ex-spouses may petition the court for alimony modification or termination. Alternatively, they can contact their ex-spouses to see if they will willingly change the alimony amount.

Generally, this is appropriate if:

  • The obligor spouse suspects that their former partner is cohabitating with another person and receiving financial support
  • The obligor spouse believes their former partner now makes sufficient money to warrant a reduction or elimination of their alimony payments

If the supported spouse does not agree to alimony modification or termination, the obligor spouse can file a written request to the court. They can formally ask for termination or modification to their alimony arrangement.

To succeed, the obligor ex-spouse must provide evidence to show a change in the supported spouses financial situation or prove that they are cohabitating with a financially supportive partner.

This can be difficult on your own, but knowledgeable family law attorneys may be able to help by gathering evidence for you, presenting it persuasively in court, and more.

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What Are The Different Types Of Alimony In Florida

Permanent: Permanent alimony is alimony for support until the remarriage of the payee spouse or the death of either party. Permanent alimony is always modifiable with a showing of a substantial change in circumstances.

Rehabilitative: Rehabilitative alimony is intended to provide assistance to a spouse while he or she regains the ability or establishes the capacity for self support. The party seeking rehabilitative alimony for retraining has the burden of proof as to the retraining plan, the object of rehabilitation, the cost of the plan, the period necessary to complete the plan, and how the plan is workable to make the party self supporting.

Bridge-the-Gap: Bridge-the-Gap alimony is an award for a specific short duration to assist the spouse with the transition from married life to single life and is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs. The length of the award may not exceed 2 years. The award of this type of alimony is non-modifiable.

Lump-Sum: Lump-Sum alimony is a certain sum paid at one time or installments and the court will order this type of alimony only when an award of permanent alimony is justified and the court finds special circumstances warranting a lump-sum payment such as if the paying spouse is in poor health.

Alimony may be taxable to the payee spouse and deductible by the paying spouse. Retroactive alimony may be awarded back to the date of filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

What About Underemployed Spouses Who Are Dodging Spousal Support

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Because judges in the state of Florida have so much latitude in the matter, it is impossible to say how much spousal support the receiving spouse might be entitled to. The needs of the receiving spouse, as well as the paying spouses ability to pay are both significant factors. In the case of a spouse who is earning significantly less than he or she is capable of earning in a clear effort to dodge spousal support obligations, the court may impute income to that spouse.

This means that when a spouse with a doctorate degree is waiting tablesnot out of necessity or inability to find a job in his or her profession, but out of a desire not to pay spousal supportthe court may determine what that person would be making if he or she was appropriately employed. If the person is making minimum wage, but has the clear capacity to earn $150,000 a year, then the $150,000 may be used when determining the amount of spousal support. Remember, Florida courts do not look kindly upon attempts to avoid financial responsibility.

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Determine How Long Alimony Will Last In Pennsylvania

The final question with regard to alimony in Pennsylvania is how long are you going to have to pay it? or how long are you going to be receiving it? Thats a big question that most people want to know. There is no easy answer to that question. It depends really on Id say the major factor is how has the marriage been? If its a really short marriage youre not going to get it for very long. If its been a really long marriage, if youve been married for 30 years, and youre both in retirement, it may be indefinite. You may have to pay or you may get it for the rest of your life. The tougher questions are those in-between marriages you know, 10, 15, 20 years.

While theres no easy answer, a good rule of thumb is 1 year of alimony for every 3 years of marriage. If youve been married for 15 years, a good rule of thumb to think is about probably 5 years of alimony. Now that will change depending on different factors- if someone is really close to retirement, and 5 years only gets them to 64, the court might give them a couple of extra years to get them to 67. If in equitable distribution the assets were distributed unevenly, say 60/40, then the court could potentially shorten the length of alimony. But if youre looking for a quick and dirty answer for how long you have to pay it, think about one year of alimony for every 3 years of marriage.

Can You Modify Your Alimony In Florida

Yes! There are several circumstances that will allow you to petition for alimony modification in Florida:

  • Substantial, permanent change in one spouses income
  • Loss of a child

Determining whether an instance qualifies you for modification of alimony is a nuanced process, and we highly recommend contacting a Tampa divorce attorney to help you out.

Contact us now to hire a dedicated team of Tampa lawyers who will fight for what you deserve.

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How Much Is Alimony In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania considers support for a spouse or child a priority responsibility. Therefore, a party is expected to pay their alimony or support obligations by reducing other expenses. Alimony is typically calculated on a case-by-case basis by the family court judge assigned to the case.

The basic alimony, spousal support, or alimony pendente lite obligation is often calculated using the parties average monthly net incomes. Monthly net income is calculated by adding up an individuals income for 6 months and then dividing the total by 6.

Per Chapter 23 Section 4302 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Status, income refers to all money received by an individual from any source, including but not limited to:

  • Salaries, bonuses, and commissions
  • Social security or disability insurance
  • Lottery winnings

If a party paying alimony is a foster parent or receives payments from a public or private agency to care for a child. Such payments must be excluded from the partys monthly net income when the calculation is done.

Can Permanent Alimony Be Modified Or Terminated

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In some cases, permanent alimony may be modified or terminated when the payer reaches retirement age or becomes unemployed for an extended period of time. It can also be modified if financial circumstances change for the recipient spouse. For example, if he or she receives an inheritance or wins the lottery, alimony may be terminated. Also, under Florida law, permanent alimony is not allowed when the recipient spouses income is more than the income of the payer spouse.

Under Florida law, a person does not necessarily have to be married for their alimony payments to end. The courts have the discretion to end alimony if the recipient spouse is in a supportive relationship. This may mean cohabitating with another person who is paying for expenses. However, the term is vague so that the court can make a decision on a case-by-case basis. They will see how much money the recipient spouse is receiving from this relationship before making a decision.

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Factors In Spousal Support / Alimony Determinations

The court will take various factors into consideration when determining an alimony award. These factors are:

  • The parties’ prior standard of living
  • Length of the marriage
  • Physical and emotional condition of both spouses
  • Financial resources of each spouse
  • Income-earning capacity of each spouse
  • Income-producing capacity of the assets each spouse receives
  • The time necessary to acquire education or training for appropriate employment
  • Services rendered by homemaking, child rearing and education and career building of the other spouse.
  • 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.

    How Do I Calculate Alimony Payments

    There is no formula to calculate post-divorce alimony in PA since its a discretionary issue with the court.

    Heres something that courts dont necessarily require, but is actually one of the best ways I have found to help spouses calculate alimony in a mediated divorce. I have each spouse create a budget that reflects an estimate of their post-divorce living expenses.

    This gives them a much better sense of what they need to comfortably live in a separate household . Likewise, the payer of alimony will prepare their own budget to determine how much they can reasonably afford and for how long, consistent with the financial needs of the payee spouse.

    When spouses arrive at the alimony number with such scrutiny together, theyre often more likely to believe the payment is fair and therefore abide by their agreement.

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    Child Support In Florida

    Both parents have an obligation to provide financially for children of their marriage. Commonly, child support is paid by income deduction order, but may be paid directly from one spouse to another. Court orders for support must include a provision for child health insurance when possible in Florida.

    The number of children and the respective income of each party are the main factors determining the extent of support. Terms of the agreement can be amended in the best interests of children if there is a substantial change in the parties circumstances post-divorce. Child support ends when children have turned 18 but will terminate sooner if a child becomes an emancipated minor, marries, dies or joins the military.

    Types Of Alimony In Florida

    What is Alimony (AKA Spousal Maintenance / Spousal Support)?

    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.

  • Temporary alimony is awarded during the divorce proceeding and ends when the final judgment is entered. See Florida divorce case Littlejohn v. Littlejohn to learn more about temporary alimony.
  • Bridge the gap alimony looks at what each spouse would need to transition to single life. Bridge the gap alimony is transitional it considers bills and foreseeable expenses of starting life without a spouse.
  • Rehabilitative alimony has goals similar to bridge the gap. Rehabilitative alimony considers the time one spouse may need to further their education short or moderate and/or obtain appropriate employment.
  • Durational alimony in Florida can be awarded in short-term or moderate-term marriages. It is alimony for a pre-determined amount of time and cannot exceed the length of the marriage. For instance, if married for two years, one spouse cannot receive durational alimony for more than two years.
  • Permanent alimony is usually only granted in moderate or long-term marriages. Permanent alimony usually continues until either death or remarriage.
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    Bridge The Gap Alimony

    In Florida, bridge the gap alimony provides support after a divorce until the receiving spouse makes a transition from being married to being single. This support is designed to be short-term and cannot exceed two years.

    Bridge the gap is common in high net worth divorces and is intended to help the newly-single recipient adjust to their new financial reality. It is important to note that this form of alimony is designed to help an individual with legitimate, identifiable, short-term needs, and is not intended to fund the enjoyment of every little luxury enjoyed before a divorce.

    Does Adultery Affect Alimony

    Florida is commonly referred to as a no-fault divorce state. Under Florida divorce law, you dont need to prove adultery or other reasons for a divorce. See Florida divorce law 61.052. All Florida law requires is there be irreconcilable differences to obtain a divorce. Therefore, adultery will usually not be relevant to a judges determination for permanent alimony in Florida. However, if marital assets were used to further the adulterous relationship, it can be considered during the divorce. The funds used on the relationship may be viewed as a waste and be a credit awarded to the innocent spouse.

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    Determining The Standard Of Living For The Alimony Analysis:

    Under Florida Alimony Law, the marital standard of living the starting point for determining a spouses needs for financial support after the divorce. As an example, if the marital standard of living was to live in a one-million-dollar house, drive foreign cars, take luxurious vacations, and send the kids to private school, then the measuring of a spouses financial need for alimony after the divorce will usually be based on the costs of continuing a similar lifestyle after the divorce.

    When people cannot agree, the actual dollar amount of a spouses need for alimony is determined by having an accountant preform a needs analysis, which is a one to two-year study of how much spouses spent on each category of expenses, with certain adjustments made to reflect necessary changes in lifestyle after the divorce.

    It should be noted that while the standard of living during the marriage is usually the starting point for determining a spouses need for financial support, there are some exceptions to this that vary by jurisdiction. In many cases, the standard of living during the marriage becomes less relevant to the alimony analysis in shorter marriages or in marriages where the couple lived beyond their financial means.

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