Types of Alimony in Florida - Part 2
March 9, 2015
Alimony is a way of compensating a divorcing spouse for the economic, career, or educational sacrifices he or she made for the sake of the marriage. Under Florida law, there are five distinct types of alimony, which differ in purpose, amount, and duration: alimony pendente lite, bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, and permanent alimony. Florida courts, depending on the circumstances of the divorce, may order the payment of any or a combination of these forms of alimony.
One factor used by Florida courts in determining the variety of alimony to order is duration. For purposes of this determination, courts divide marriages into three categories:
- Short-term marriages are those under seven years,
- Moderate-term marriage lasted from seven to seventeen years, and
- Long-term marriages lasted over seventeen years.
Durational alimony is designed to give economic assistance for a set period of time after a divorce. It is usually awarded when other more temporary forms of alimony do not meet the economic needs of the payee spouse. Durational alimony is usually used in short-term or moderate-term marriages. It can also be used in marriages of long duration if there is no need for permanent assistance. The duration of the alimony may not exceed the duration of the marriage.
A court may alter the amount of durational alimony upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. The length, however, may not be altered except in exceptional circumstances. Alimony will terminate in the event of death or remarriage.
The purpose of permanent alimony is to allow the payee spouse to maintain his or her “needs and necessities of life,” that is, the standard of living, established during the marriage. It is used when the spouse lacks the ability to become self-supporting at close to the level of the marital standard of living. Permanent alimony may be awarded for long-term or moderate-term marriages after the court considers certain statutory factors, such as the duration of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, and the earning capacities of each party. Permanent alimony may also rarely be awarded for short-term marriages, but only if exceptional circumstances are shown. Additionally, the court must include a finding that no other variety of alimony is fair under the circumstances.
Permanent alimony may be modified in duration or amount based on a substantial change in circumstances or upon showing a supportive relationship. A supportive relationship is a cohabitative relationship in which the other member of the relationship pays for the living expenses of the payee spouse. Permanent alimony will terminate upon the payee spouse’s death or remarriage.
Alimony can be an essential tool to help a spouse achieve independence post-divorce, or, if that is not possible, to ensure that the spouse does not suffer undue economic distress as a result of the divorce. If you are undergoing a divorce in Florida, an experienced family law attorney can be an invaluable advocate for you to ensure that the most fair result possible is achieved. Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.