What is Alimony?
Alimony is the term for one spouse’s legal obligation to provide financial support to the other spouse after a marital separation or divorce. Alimony can be awarded to either spouse and can be awarded as a lump sum payment or as periodic payments. Additionally, alimony is either “rehabilitative,” meaning it is paid for a finite period of time, or “permanent,” meaning payments are made indefinitely.
Florida courts have broad discretion in calculating the amount of alimony a spouse will pay. Factors considered by the courts include:
• The standard of living established during the marriage;
• The duration of the marriage;
• The spouses’ ages and mental and physical health;
• The spouses’ financial resources;
• The marital and non-marital assets and liabilities of each spouse; and
• Contributions to the household including child care, housekeeping, and education and career building for the other spouse.
Additionally, although Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, courts may consider the adulterous acts of either spouse in calculating alimony.
It is crucial that you are honest with your Pensacola alimony lawyer regarding the above factors when litigating whether alimony will be paid. Your spouse and his or her attorney will likely discover any information you attempt to hide, and you may lead the judge to believe you are a deceptive person. If your Pensacola alimony lawyer has all of the relevant information, he or she will be best positioned to obtain a favorable outcome on your behalf.
If you are ordered to pay alimony and no child support is involved, you will probably make payments directly to your former spouse. If you are ever late making a payment, your former spouse may request that payments be made through the state depository.
Permanent Alimony vs. Rehabilitative Spousal Support
In Florida, alimony is either “permanent” or “rehabilitative.” Whether the court will order permanent or rehabilitative alimony depends on several factors, including length of the marriage, standard of living during the marriage, each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, each spouse’s resources and non-marital assets, and each spouse’s ability to provide for his or her own needs.
Permanent alimony lasts for the rest of the life of the spouse receiving support. It is most commonly awarded in cases involving marriages of long duration, but it may also be awarded in shorter marriages when exceptional circumstances exist. The terms of a permanent alimony arrangement are modified only if there is a change of circumstances justifying modification. For instance, if the spouse receiving support remarries, the court will likely “terminate” the alimony, since the remarrying spouse will presumably receive support from his or her new spouse.
Rehabilitative Spousal Support
Rehabilitative spousal support is of limited duration and is intended to afford the spouse receiving support the opportunity to develop the resources to become independent. Rehabilitative support may terminate when the spouse receiving support obtains certain skills or education or finds gainful employment. In any case, the term of rehabilitative spousal support cannot exceed the length of your marriage.
If you seek alimony from your former spouse, your Pensacola alimony lawyer must show that you have a need for the alimony and your former spouse has the ability to pay it. Conversely, if you want to avoid paying alimony, your attorney will argue that you are not financially able to compensate your spouse. Although the factors identified above are among the most important in the court’s formulation of an alimony plan, the court has broad discretion to act in the interest of fairness to both spouses, and you should make sure that your attorney is aware of all of the circumstances you believe are relevant to the determination of how alimony will be paid upon your divorce.
To obtain legal advice regarding your divorce, please contact Pensacola alimony lawyer, Brad Fisher today for a free consultation.