Alimony in the State of Florida

Alimony is usually requested when a spouse feels that financial assistance will be necessary to maintain one’s existence post-marriage. The complete dissolution of marriage with all decisions in their final form is not a pre-requisite for alimony allotment. Temporary alimony can be ordered by the Court until final hearings are held at which time a more permanent order will be finalized.

Permanent spousal alimony will be considered by the Court for long-standing marriages; spousal alimony for a partner in a marriage of an intermediate length will also be considered if specific circumstances present themselves. Requests for spousal alimony emanating from a short-term marriage will need to show extraordinary circumstances.

There is a type of alimony termed durational alimony. Monies are paid for a specific amount of time to a spouse who was party to a short-term or intermediate length marriage. The time parameters will NOT exceed the LENGTH of the actual marriage.

There is also Bridge the Gap alimony. It helps a spouse with the transition from married partner to single person. It assists with short term necessities and will not be allowed for more than two years.

Rehabilitative alimony is term referable to a spouse who has a marketable skill but has not used it during the extent of the marriage. Until this spouse has been back in the work force for awhile and can command a livable wage, the Court can order an alimony payment for an expressed period of time which will allow the other spouse time to train or retrain in order to be self-sufficient.

An aside with which one should be aware involves remarriage or living with someone new. Alimony is usually terminated upon remarriage but it can also be reduced or stopped if it can be shown that the prior spouse is living in what can be termed as a “supportive” relationship with someone new. Courts decide the parameters of the definition of “supportive”. Two such parameters include whether the prior spouse and new significant other hold themselves out as a husband and wife and if the finances of a new duo can be shown as mutually beneficial.

Obviously, in addition to proving a need for alimony (cannot pay needs bills), there has to be the capacity to pay on the part of other spouse. If a spouse has been maintaining a certain life style based on spousal income, it would be unusual for the Court to order that lifestyle significantly changed. Say, for example, a 60 year old woman has been married for 35 years and is suddenly facing a divorce. She has never earned what could be termed as a significant income. Her husband has been the major bread-winner. The odds of her increasing her independent income to the extent required to maintain the35 year life-style is minimal. The Court would most likely say she is entitled to maintain her 35 year life style and would order assistance to maintain same. The Court cannot, however, order monies paid which would leave the paying spouse with an income less than that of the receiving spouse.

Alimony can be voluntarily paid or it can be ordered withheld from the spouse’s paycheck(s). Support Enforcement units of the court system can ensure that monies are forwarded in a timely fashion to the receiving spouse. In Florida, if a spouse does not pay the Support Enforcement unit, members of the unit can so inform the Court and suspension of driving privileges will be the usual consequence. Unemployed ex-spouses can be ordered by the Court to find a job or enter into job training programs.

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