Alimony is a legal obligation on one person to provide financial support to their spouse after marital seperation and divorce.

Types of Alimony in Florida:

Rehabilitative alimony, as the name implies, is intended to help support a spouse to allow him/ her to renew old skills or gain new skills leading to self-support. It is intended to be a short- term measure which enables a spouse to get back on his or her feet, whether through going to school or to otherwise acquire needed skills to be competitive in the job market. Usually a spouse who has chosen the role of becoming a homemaker and raising children has not been able to develop the skills necessary for productive and gainful employment or has not applied their education and training for so long that acquiring a job feels insurmountable. This type of support ends automatically after a fixed period, or satisfaction of conditions unless the court is asked to extend it.

Permanent Alimony continues until there is a substantial change in circumstances including remarriage or death of the spouse. It is usually awarded when one of the parties is unable to work due to age, physical or mental illness. The two primary elements considered are needs of the receiving spouse and ability of the paying spouse to provide the necessary funds.

Lump Sum Alimony, involves a set payment amount. This type of alimony survives the death of both parties and cannot be changed. It may involve money, property or a combination of the two. It may be payable all at once or in payments over a period of time.

Durational Alimony is alimony that is provided for a needy spouse for a specific duration of time. This is generally awarded to a spouse in a moderate term marriage when other forms of alimony are not appropriate. Durational alimony cannot exceed the length of the parties’ marriage and is otherwise subject to modification similar to that of permanent periodic alimony.

Temporary Alimony is alimony awarded for the pendency of the case, and thus is only for a finite period of time. Temporary Alimony can be requested through a Motion for Temporary Relief, but is generally coupled with another type of alimony in the original Pleadings.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony is alimony that is provided to a needy spouse to bridge the gap between married and single life. This is generally awarded in a short term marriage when there is a large variance in the parties’ incomes. Bridge-the-Gap alimony cannot exceed two (2) years.

Factors affecting alimony:

Some of the possible factors that bear on the amount and duration of the support are:

Length of the marriage
A marriage of 1-7 years is considered a short term marriage and there is a presumption against alimony. A marriage of 7-17 years is considered a moderate term marriage and there is no presumption in favor or against alimony. A marriage of 17 years or more is considered a long term marriage and there is a presumption in favor of alimony.

Age of the parties at the time of the divorce
Generally more youthful spouses are considered to be more able to ‘get on’ with their lives, and therefore contribute to the need vs. ability of a party to pay, as age bears an impact on considerations of equity as well as ability to become/ remain gainfully employed and are thought to require shorter periods of support.

Relative income of the parties
Generally speaking, the Courts will balance one party’s needs over the other party’s ability to pay. If a party does not have the ability to pay minimal monthly expenses, and the other party has a good income, so long as other factors are satisfied, it’s likely that alimony will be awarded. While the goal is not to equalize the parties incomes, the court will look to actual earnings or capable earnings to determine whether one party has the ability to pay and whether the other party has the need. Coupled with the other statutory factors, the court will determine if alimony should be awarded.

Health of the parties
Poor health goes towards need, and potentially an inability to support for oneself.

Standard of living during the marriage
Florida recognize a ‘right’ of the spouses to live according to the means they have become accustomed. Alimony attempts to adjust the incomes of the spouses so that they are able to approximate, as best possible, their prior lifestyle.