Why is alimony awarded when a couple divorces and what types of alimony are available in Florida?

According to Florida Statue 61.08, in determining whether to award alimony or maintenance, the court shall first make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance. If the court finds that a party has a need for alimony or maintenance and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance, then in determining the proper type and amount of alimony or maintenance, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.

(b) The duration of the marriage.

(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.

(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.

(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.

(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.

(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.

(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.

(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.

(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

(3) To the extent necessary to protect an award of alimony, the court may order any party who is ordered to pay alimony to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure such alimony award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose.

The State of Florida recognizes six (6) types of alimony that a court may grant based upon the disillusionment of a marriage: 1) permanent alimony, temporary alimony, rehabilitative alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, durational alimony and lump sum alimony. Each particular variety of alimony serves a different purpose. Below you will find a brief explanation each of the six type of alimony, and the reason each type may be granted.

Permanent Alimony-The purpose of permanent alimony is to enable a spouse who has left the marriage, or forgone economic opportunities in furtherance of the marriage to continue to live in the same standard of living as enjoyed during the marriage. More commonly seen as a result of the termination of a marriage of longer duration (seventeen (17) years or more), it is not uncommon to be awarded in marriages lasting as little as seven (7) years. As a general rule, the longer the marriage, the greater the chance that there will be an economic disparity as the result of the spouse in question participating in the marriage, and the greater the alimony award may be. There are instances where permanent alimony will be awarded in marriages less than seven (7) years in duration, and usually based upon the receiving spouse being seriously injured or unable to work based upon an incurable disease. In order for the court to grant permanent alimony, the requesting party has the burden of proof to show the party paying has the ability to pay the amount of alimony requested.

Temporary Alimony-Temporary alimony in Florida may be awarded to a party to cover their immediate needs from inception of filing petition for dissolution of marriage action until the entry of the Final Judgment.

Rehabilitative Alimony-More typically awarded in medium length and short term marriages, rehabilitative alimony could be awarded to allow the receiving party the opportunity to re-enter the job market and attain self-sufficiency by renewing previous employment skills or the acquire new skills through training and education. The receiving party of rehabilitative alimony has the burden to show the court a clear and detailed plan of rehabilitation, such as enrollment in school or other training activities. This type of alimony is usually granted to an individual who sacrificed a profession or discontinued the pursuit of an educational degree in order to maintain a home or have children and now wish to pick up where they left off in their pursuit of a career and need financial assistance and support to do so.

Bridge-the-gap Alimony-Bridge-the-gap alimony is a temporary, short term payment that is available to allow a party to support the transition from married to single life. Courts will not grant this type of alimony for more than a two (2) year time period.

Durational Alimony-A more recent creation in Florida alimony law is durational alimony. Durational alimony allows an alternative for the courts when deciding between permanent periodic alimony and rehabilitative alimony. Durational alimony enabled the court to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration. Unique to durational alimony is that the receiving party does not have to have to present a rehabilitative plan.

Lump Sum Alimony-Lump sum alimony in Florida is somewhat of a hybrid form of alimony. In some circumstances it can be used as a means of support and other times can be used to equalize the asset distribution (i.e. one party may be awarded a business and the other party is awarded lump sum alimony as an offset).

Alimony is a very complex area of family law. The wrong decisions concerning alimony rights and obligations can result in lifelong costs and expenses that can devastate a person’s financial future. Before entering into any agreement to pay alimony, you owe it to yourself to obtain advice from a qualified, experienced and compassionate attorney before making a major decision that could have a lifelong impact on the lives of you and your loved ones. Dan Newlin and Partners is exactly that type of firm. Call now for free advice on family law, and other legal issues. The call is free, but the advice could be priceless. Call Dan Newlin & Partners now at (407) 888-8000.