Alimony Factors Considered in Florida

Over the last few years, the topic of alimony reform has been at the center of family law issues. This is because of the ever-growing balance between men and women in not only the professional realm but also in the domestic arena. Women are becoming more and more educated and becoming a greater force in the professional world. Men are also becoming more and more involved with the domestic responsibilities and are espousing the idea of joint parenting. This type of equality has led to many questions about the longevity of alimony, when should it be awarded, and for how long? If you are considering a divorce and are looking for advice on going forward, it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney.

Alimony in Florida can currently be granted to either party regardless of gender. If the court finds that either party is in actual need of alimony or any type of maintenance, the court will review the following elements to determine how much, how long, and in what form alimony will take:

  • The standard of living while the marriage was taking place;
  • How long the couple has been married for;
  • The age, physical and emotional health of each party;
  • The financial earnings, potential earnings, and employment opportunities of each party
  • The current contribution to the marriage, the family, children and all marital assets and liabilities possessed by the couple;
  • The educational level or vocational skills of each party; and
  • If there are any additional factors that would need to be evaluated in the name of fairness, equity, and justice.
Marriage Durations in the Alimony Context

Duration does have a significant impact on the award of alimony. According to Florida law:

  • A short duration marriage is any marriage of seven years or less,
  • A moderate duration of marriage is any marriage longer than seven years but shorter than 17 years, and
  • A long duration of marriage is any marriage longer than 17 years.
Alimony Types

There are several different types of alimony. The following are the specific types:

Bridge-the-gap alimony is the award of maintenance to a party to aid that party in his or her transition from a married person to a single person. The award only lasts for two years and is only for short-term needs of getting one person on their feet. This award may be terminated if the party dies or if he or she remarries.

Rehabilitative alimony is the award of maintenance to a party to help in self-sufficiency. This could be through the use of alimony toward a redevelopment of skills or credentials for future employment opportunities. This award may be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances.

Durational alimony may be provided for a period of time to help in economic assistance depending on whether the marriage is of short or moderate duration. If the marriage is of long duration, durational alimony may only be appropriate where there the spouse does not need significant and permanent alimony. The amount of the award may be modified or terminated if there are substantial changes that led to the adjustment, but the length of the award is generally non-modifiable, except for extraordinary situations.

Finally, permanent alimony may be applied in a circumstance where the party requires long-term assistance and has needs that will last a lifetime. Permanent alimony is most likely appropriate where a marriage has been of a long duration and it would be an injustice to the party if his or her alimony was limited. This is generally because one party may have spent his/her life taking care of the family and the marriage, and relied solely on the breadwinner for all financial support. At the end of a long marriage, if it were permitted that the breadwinner could divorce a spouse without alimony, this would be against public policy because it would become the responsibility of the state to care for the spouse cut off from his or her relied upon finances.

Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation regarding alimony rights and what may or may not affect them.