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Florida Divorce Issues: Alimony
In Florida, alimony is categorized in six different ways: permanent alimony, durational alimony, rehabilitative alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, temporary alimony and lump sum alimony. Alimony is likely the most difficult issue to predict in a divorce.
A man is no more or less likely to pay alimony to a woman than a woman would be to pay that alimony to the man -- if all income factors are the same. Either spouse can seek alimony, and either spouse may be required to pay alimony. While women may receive alimony more often than men, it is likely because there are more situations where a man earns more (and has the ability to pay) and the woman earns much less (and has the greater need). To be clear, alimony is based on the factors provided for in the statutes. It is not based on whether a spouse is male or female.
The Florida statutes provide no guidelines or schedules for determining alimony in Florida law (as they do in child support); however, the law does provide factors that must be considered when alimony is at issue. The factors are:
The length of the marriage: If the length of the marriage is fewer than seven years, then it is considered a short term marriage, and alimony is unlikely. A marriage lasting fourteen years will often justify alimony. Marriages between the two numbers are in the "gray" zone, and depend on many factors. The length of the marriage is only one factor, but it is an important one.
The couple's standard of living or lifestyle during the marriage: If possible, a court will divide assets and future income in a way that allows both spouses to continue their lifestyle for a period of time that matches well with the length of the marriage. In a long marriage, a court may look to equalize lifestyles for the rest of the parties' lives. In a short-term marriage, the court may not look to equalize at all.
The age, physical, and emotional condition of each party; the financial resources of each party after factoring in the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each; and when applicable, the time necessary for either spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to that person to find appropriate employment: If one spouse is seeking alimony, that spouse's ability to work and earn income is relevant. Is it appropriate for alimony to be paid for a period of time while that spouse returns to school or gets other training? Then, the court would factor in that spouse’s work history, and his/her historical rate of pay. In addition to that spouse's ability to earn income, the court would consider such things as any special needs of children and if those needs might interfere with that spouse's/parent's ability to work. That need factor is considered next to the other spouse's ability to contribute/pay alimony.
The amount of property to be divided. If one spouse gets a larger share of the marital property in the property settlement, then that will factor in to the amount of alimony that will be awarded. (If, for example, the spouse who earns less income receives an investment asset that historically generates $500/month in income, then that investment income will be factored into the determination of whether and what amount of alimony would be paid.)