Alimony or Spousal Support
FORT LAUDERDALE AND MIAMI ALIMONY LAWYER
Are You Facing Alimony Challenges?
NEED TO PAY OR SEEK SPOUSAL SUPPORT?
Divorce is complicated, emotional, and stressful, and the issue of alimony is one of the hot-button issues at the heart of that process. If you’re seeking alimony or hoping to protect yourself against an alimony claim, you want to ensure that you protect your interests with the help of a divorce attorney who has the experience to help you navigate the entire process.
The Pazos Law Group team of South Florida divorce lawyers have helped many couples overcome the often-challenging process of divorce. We know the ins and outs of each side, having helped both men and women negotiate terms that make sense.
IS ALIMONY REQUIRED IN FLORIDA?
Florida law doesn’t give any spouse a clear-cut right to alimony. In any divorce case where a spouse wants alimony, or spousal support, the judge has to look at a series of factors to decide whether or not alimony is appropriate.
One of those considerations is the length of the marriage. In Florida law, marriages fall into three categories. A short-term marriage is one lasting less than seven years, a moderate-term marriage lasts more than seven but less than 17 years, and a long-term marriage lasts 17 years or more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Alimony
Florida courts may grant five kinds of alimony if the judge finds it appropriate. Each type of alimony is specific to the kind of marriage, the circumstances of the marriage, and can be given to either spouse.
- Temporary: This type of alimony is given while the divorce is pending and ends when the divorce is final.
- Rehabilitative: This type of support helps one spouse get the skills and credentials to support him/herself as a single person. That can mean more education and training, a new job, or more experience in a particular career field. The spouse receiving support must follow a court-approved rehabilitative plan.
- Permanent: Permanent alimony provides for the needs of life for a spouse that is based on the quality of life experienced during the marriage. This type of support normally goes to spouses ending a long-term marriage, but can apply to those ending a marriage of moderate length if certain criteria are met.
- Bridge The Gap: This type of spousal support gives one spouse time to transition from married to single life. Bridge the Gap alimony can last no longer than two years.
- Durational: This type of alimony is given for a period of time after a short-term or moderate-term marriage ends. Durational alimony cannot last for longer than the marriage and will automatically end if the spouse receiving the support gets remarried.
Unlike child support, alimony is not a mathematical equation. In fact, alimony awards can vary widely from case to case, based on the specific circumstances.
We always seek to help divorcing spouses decide on the terms of spousal support on their own, without involving the courts, so that each party can get more of what they want and need. However, that cannot always happen in a mediation room or through negotiation.
If the spouses cannot agree on the nature or amount of alimony, the judge will decide by considering the following factors:
- The need, if any, for spousal support
- The ability of one spouse to pay another spouse alimony
- How long the marriage lasted
- Any difference in how much each spouse earns
- Any income sources
- The standard of living during marriage
- Age and the physical/emotional health of each spouse
- The responsibilities each spouse has to children
- All other financial resources, including non-marital assets, marital assets, and debt
- What each spouse brought to the marriage, including homemaking, child care, career building
- What each spouse did to help the other’s career
- How much each spouse can earn based on education, experience, etc.
In some cases, yes. Changing an alimony order, whether you are the one receiving the support or paying it, requires a substantial change in financial circumstances that can be proven to the court. No matter what, alimony can’t leave the person who is paying it in a worse financial condition than the person receiving it. If your circumstances have changed and you are currently paying alimony, you may be eligible for a modification of your alimony order.
The type of modification will depend on the type of alimony. Certain types of alimony, like bridge the gap alimony, cannot be modified at all. Other types, like rehabilitative, durational, or permanent alimony, can be modified by the court when it’s clear that circumstances have changed. Durational and permanent alimony usually can only be changed in terms of amount, not length of time.
One way that permanent alimony can end is if the person who is receiving it gets remarried. Another trigger for reducing or ending alimony is when the recipient can be proven to be in a “supportive relationship” that has the characteristics of a marriage without the legal status.
A “supportive relationship” will be evaluated based on certain criteria:
- the extent to which the couple behaves like a married couple and refers to themselves in that way
- how much they have pooled their assets and income, called financial interdependence
- how much they perform valuable services for each other
- if they’ve purchased property together
- whether or not they live at the same address
- the degree to which they have established mutual support between them, taking on responsibilities like caring for each other’s children
- whether they work together to create or enhance anything of value
- if they have an express or implied agreement about how they share property or support
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