How is alimony determined?

Florida Statute §61.08 sets forth how the courts decide whether to award alimony and what kind of alimony to award. Alimony is based on two major factors. First, the person who wants to receive alimony must be able to show that they have a need for alimony. Second, the person who is going to pay alimony must have the ability to pay for alimony.

The court may grant various types of alimony. These types include bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent alimony or any combination of these.

  • Bridge-the-gap alimony is to assist a spouse in making the transition from being married to being single. There must be legitimate identifiable short-term needs. The length of the alimony is for up to 2 years.
  • Rehabilitative alimony is to assist a party in establishing their own self-support. Rehabilitative alimony can be used to redevelop previous skills or credentials or to acquire education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. In order to award rehabilitative alimony, you must have a specific and defined rehabilitative plan.
  • A court often awards Durational alimony when they cannot award permanent alimony. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with financial support for a specific period. The length of an award of durational alimony may not be longer than the marriage itself.
  • A court awards Permanent alimony to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage because one of the parties lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a divorce. Permanent alimony may be awarded once the court consideration the factors below. In order to award permanent alimony, a court must decide that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. Additionally, do not let the title fool you – permanent alimony can be modified or terminated if there are substantial changes in circumstances.

The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances of any adultery in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.

In order to award alimony, a court must review specific factors. These factors include:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
  • The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
  • 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.
  • All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
  • Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

If you intend to seek alimony or if you may be asked to pay alimony, consider meeting with an experienced family law attorney who can discuss need, ability to pay, and the factors as they relate to your case.

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