“You never realize how short a month is until you pay alimony.” John Barrymore
One of the issues that may be involved in the divorce process is alimony. Also known as so-called “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance,” it is the payment ordered by the court to be made by one of the former spouses to the other to support them after separation. In the state of Florida, the common term used is still “alimony;” it comes in a variety of types and amounts and has specific requirements as for filing and execution.
Why Do You Need Alimony?
When two people divorce, they need to transition from living with two incomes to one. Their incomes may be unequal. Moreover, one of the spouses may have no income at all if only the other partner worked full-time and they were solely taking care of the household and the children. Thus, after the divorce, the needier spouse can get support from the partner with greater financial resources to maintain their stability and living standards until they can support themselves.
When determining alimony, the judge evaluates one spouse’s ability to make payments and the other spouse’s need for financial support. In the result of this assessment, the type, amount, and duration of paying alimony are defined. A range of different factors are considered by the judge, and the decision depends on each specific case.
So, if you intend to file for alimony, you need to know how it all works in accordance with divorce law in Florida. In this article, we offer the most crucial information about types, calculations, and ways to request for alimony in this state.
Types of Alimony
Any of the five traditional types of alimony can be ordered in one lump sum or may be paid periodically. Everything depends on specific circumstances and particular situation of each divorcing couple. In addition to both spouses’ financial situation and capacity, the length of their marriage impacts the type of alimony that can be awarded. So, much depends on whether the marriage was short-term (lasted less than 7 years), moderate-term (from 7 to 17 years), or long-term (17 or more years long).
Also known as “pendent lite,” temporary alimony is awarded to one of the spouses while the divorce process is on to maintain his or her financial stability during this lengthy and exhausting period. This financial support is meant to cover the needier party’s bills, mortgages, house maintenance, etc. However, the judge should see the need of one spouse and the ability to pay of another one. Temporary alimony ends automatically when the proceedings are finalized and can be replaced with another type after the final judgement is made.
This type of alimony literally “bridges the gap” while the requesting party is transitioning from the married to single status. The support is meant to maintain all the foreseeable and identifiable short-term needs like bills and other specific expenses of the spouse who needs to start a new life without the partner until they find a stable job or sell the marital real estate, for example. Bridge-the-gap alimony is calculated for two years only and cannot be extended. Besides, it can terminate earlier in case the supported spouse marries again or the supporting spouse dies.
Be the way, bridge-the-gap alimony is only available in a few states including Florida, and it cannot be modified in any way after it is awarded.
Perhaps the most common type of alimony is rehabilitative, which is meant to temporarily support the spouse in their educational or job training endeavors. Since its aim is to ensure that the educational needs are met until the receiving party can get employed in order to gain self-sufficiency, it is similar to the bridge-the-gap alimony in some way. To request for it, the seeking spouse should provide the judge with a so-called “rehabilitative plan” for review. The judge considers the anticipated duration of the training program, its cost, time for apprenticeship, and estimated time needed for securing employment. It can be modified in case the circumstances change and ends as soon as the supported spouse is fully financially independent.
That is when the duration of your marriage plays a decisive role because durational alimony is set exactly for the same period that you have been married and cannot exceed it (five years of marriage will define only five years of regular payments). This type of spousal support is awarded if the lower-earning partner requires financial assistance but does not qualify for any other type of alimony. It can be modified but only in terms of amounts, not the length. Durational alimony is mostly applicable in cases of short- and moderate-term marriages.
Contrarily, permanent payments of spousal support can be granted mostly in cases of moderate- or long-term marriages. It is usually granted to a spouse who cannot become self-supporting. Spouse’s disability or advanced age as well as a minor child with special needs are generally considered as sufficient reasons for permanent alimony. It can be modified in case of changing circumstances in either party’s life and terminates when the supported spouse remarries or either of the two dies. However, this type of alimony is rather rare even in Florida.
Calculations of Alimony
Calculations of alimony in Florida do not follow any predetermined formula. Each case is considered separately, and the judge defines its appropriateness, duration, and amount on the basis of a range of factors.
The first step is determining if the requesting spouse really needs support and if the other party is able to pay it.
If the answer to both questions is “yes,” the second step is to determine the type, duration, and amount. The calculations are made on the basis of the following factors:
Both spouses’ age
Both spouses’ physical and emotional condition
Number and ages of children (if any)
Living standards during the marriage
Both spouses’ sources of income, including:
Dividends and interests
Marital and non-marital assets and liabilities
Both spouses’ contribution made into the marriage (financial and non-financial)
Both spouses’ educational level, skills, and general earning capacity
Any other relevant factors
In many cases, adultery is also considered as an important factor that could impact marital funds and may even be used as a punishment for bad behavior.
How to Request Alimony?
In fact, no specific steps in requesting alimony are needed. When filing for divorce, you simply need to include this issue into the list of disputed aspects that need to be resolved. Like it has already been stated, alimony is meant for providing financial support for a lower-earning spouse to help them get back on their feet and adjust to a single life after divorce. If the judge decides that this spouse really requires this support and the other party is really able to provide it, the request will be satisfied in any case with the difference in type, duration, and amount. More information on the issue may be found on specialized websites like this one: https://floridaonlinedivorce.com/
Avoiding Judge’s Involvement
Alimony should not be obligatory determined and calculated by the court. If you intend to have an uncontested divorce and save on all those lengthy hearings and proceedings as well as attorney’s fees, you may safely define all these issues on your own. Having received the basic information on the types of alimony in Florida and the factors that must be considered from this article, you are absolutely able to reach your own agreements and certify them in the documents. Moreover, you can find all the necessary divorce forms online .
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