25 Jun How Does Spousal Support (Alimony) Work? The Basics of Alimony in Florida
How Does Spousal Support (Alimony) Work?
Florida family courts do not have a set equation that they can use in order to compute whether (or not) one party will receive spousal support, they do (however) have to review several factors (set forth in statutory guidelines) to determine a spouse’s eligibility and the amount that will be paid.
Types of Spousal Support
There are four basic types of alimony in Florida: permanent, durational, bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative. Alimony payments will cease from becoming due should the receiving party dies or remarries. Certain types of alimony may be modified if the requesting party is able to show exceptional circumstances (such as a loss of employment) or a severe illness or injury that keeps the payor from working.
Circumstances the Court Must Review
If the court finds that the duration of the marriage is sufficient, it must also look to the following statutorily set guidelines:
* How the parties lived during the marriage;
* The age of both parties and the emotional and physical condition of both;
* The finances of both parties, including items that are non-marital — things that may be awarded to one spouse, such as an inheritance. This also includes what marital assets and liabilities are awarded to each spouse;
* How much each spouse earns each month, including taking into consideration the educational levels, vocational skills and the amount of time it would take for a spouse to increase his or her earning capacity;
* How much each spouse contributed to the marriage, including helping around the house, taking care of the children, and even if one spouse gave up a career or education to support the other spouse’s career building activities;
* How much responsibility each spouse contributed to the minor children, such as taking the children to the doctor, picking them up at school, watching the children while the other spouse wasn’t home, etc.;
* How the spousal support payments will affect the parties’ taxes; and
* Any extra income available to each spouse, such as investments and royalties.
What is a Long-Term Marriage?
Restated, what do the Florida courts consider a marriage that is of a significant length so that it renders a spouse eligible for alimony if Florida? While the statutes set forth guidelines that define a short-term marriage as being less than 7 years, a moderate term as more than 7 but less than 17 years, and a long-term marriage of over 17 years, these are not “hard and fast” rules. Some family courts consider anything over 10 years to be a long-term marriage. However, many courts opt to award alimony if the parties meet the requirements for a marriage lasting anywhere from 7 years. The duration of a marriage is calculated from the date of the of the nuptials until the date of filing the petition for dissolution of marriage.
What if I Can’t Pay the Court Ordered Alimony?
The court cannot make you pay so much alimony that you have significantly less net income than your spouse – unless it finds some exceptional circumstances. If you feel you are paying too much in alimony, whether it is in payments, in a lump sum or via assets given to your spouse, you need to contact a Florida alimony attorney as soon as possible. While it is difficult to change an alimony order, it is not impossible in cases where the statutes permit a change.
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