Overview of Alimony in Florida

Alimony payments are something to keep in mind if you're ending a long term marriage in Florida.
Alimony payments are something to keep in mind if you’re ending a long term marriage in Florida. Contact Gainesville, Florida alimony/divorce attorney Nick Hamm at 352-888-6142 if you’re curious about your situation.

Are you eligible for alimony in Florida? What do court’s consider when determining alimony in Florida?

Whether you are eligible for alimony after your divorce, or might have to pay alimony, depends on several factors discussed below.  Nick Hamm, a Gainesville, Florida divorce and alimony attorney explains in general terms how Florida courts determine whether you qualify for alimony.

Need And Ability To Pay

Initially, it must be determined that one party has a need and the other party has the ability to pay alimony.   To do this, the court will consider the disparity in income between the parties. The court will also be interested in hearing evidence of the parties’ lifestyle during the marriage. Evidence that the parties took expensive vacations, ate at fancy restaurants, or drove nice cars, are all examples of the lifestyle the parties lived. Furthermore, evidence that one party stayed home to raise the children while the other party furthered their career outside of the home is also important.  The Court may also look at how your marital property was divided in determining whether either party has the need or ability to pay.  Check out my other posts to know more about distribution of assets and debts in your Florida divorce.

Length of Marriage

Next, the Court will consider the length of the marriage in Florida. Of course, alimony in Florida is only applicable if the parties were lawfully married. The parties don’t need to have been married in Florida, however.

In Florida, the alimony statute groups marriages by short term, medium length, and long-term. Generally, a marriage that lasted less than seven years is considered short term, a marriage that lasted more than seventeen years is considered long-term, and anything in between is considered medium length.

How long your marriage lasted will come into play when determining what type of alimony would be appropriate, and provide guidance to what the court might order.

Four Types Of Alimony

There are four types of alimony available in Florida. A party can be awarded multiple types of alimony at the same time depending on the circumstances.

Bridge the Gap

Bridge the Gap alimony is, in general terms, designed to “bridge the gap” from married life to single life for the party with less income. It will usually consist of short-term payments of less than two years, or a one-time lump sum to assist in moving expenses, or any other expenses needed to adjust to single life.

Rehabilitative

Rehabilitative Alimony is designed to provide payments from one former spouse to the other for a short period of time to gain skills necessary to re-enter the workforce.   Rehabilitative alimony is appropriate in short and medium length marriages where the receiving spouse is still young enough to re-enter the workforce. The rehabilitative alimony is therefore put towards gaining the necessary skills or education to re-enter the workforce.

Durational

Durational alimony is closer to what people think of when the term alimony comes up. Simply put, it is payments from one former spouse to the other to maintain the receiving spouse’s living conditions that were established during the marriage. The only difference between durational alimony and permanent alimony is (you guessed it), durational alimony is for a set period of time. It is not uncommon for durational alimony to last for 5, 10, or even 20 years.

Permanent

Finally, we get to permanent alimony. This is where the length of the marriage really comes into play. Permanent alimony can only be awarded if the parties’ marriage lasted longer than seventeen years. So, if your marriage lasted more than seventeen years in Florida, permanent (for life) alimony may be on the table.  Although this article is written by a Gainesville, Florida divorce lawyer, it is just an overview of the alimony laws in Florida.  It is important to consult with a divorce lawyer you can trust before deciding on a course of action.