What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is financial support that one spouse must pay another after a divorce. The main goal is to help make sure that the lower or non-earning spouse’s standard of living will not be drastically affected. This is especially true for couples where there’s a significant difference between the spouse’s earning capacity and those who have been married for a very long time.
Like all divorce issues, the divorcing couple can agree on who must pay alimony, how long the spouse must pay, and how much must be paid. A judge will have to decide if the couple cannot agree on the terms of alimony.
Understanding The Types of Alimony Available in Florida
Up until July 1, 2023, there were four alimony types in Florida, including rehabilitative support, bridge-the-gap alimony, durational alimony, and permanent alimony. While permanent alimony is not an option anymore, the other alimony types are still available. Judges can order more than one alimony type, depending on the circumstances.
Judges usually award this alimony type in cases where the recipient spouse can become financially independent but requires financial support and ample time to get training, an education, or work experience, or develop or redevelop job skills, so they can work and earn money to support themselves. The couple is legally required to create a reasonable rehabilitative plan that a judge will review for approval.
Florida is among the few states where bridge-the-gap alimony is available and is awarded by judges to help meet the recipient spouse’s short-term needs as they transition from married life to singlehood. For instance, the recipient spouse may use the money to cover monthly expenses while trying to find a job that pays well or waiting for a marital property to sell after the divorce. Two years is the maximum time you can receive bridge-the-gap alimony.
This type of alimony is awarded when the recipient spouse requires financial support for a predetermined time following the divorce. How long a spouse will receive durational alimony will be based on how long they were married. How much a spouse will receive will depend on their reasonable need and other factors.
Factors Used When Determining Alimony in Florida
A judge must evaluate these factors to determine whether a spouse can pay alimony and whether (and to what extent) the recipient spouse needs alimony:
- How long the couple was married
- The couple’s standard of living
- The financial resources and income sources of each spouse
- The age, physical health, and emotional health of each spouse
- Which spouse is the primary custodial parent
- Each spouse’s job skills, educational attainment, employability, and earning capacity
- How each spouse contributed to the marriage, whether by being the breadwinner or caring for the kids, homemaking, and helping the other spouse build their career
Judges will also take into account any allegation of adultery, especially if it affected the marital assets of the couple.