For all spouses, life will change significantly following a divorce. Depending upon your individual circumstances, you may lose the financial support of the primary breadwinner, have to move out of the family home, divide your possessions, and share time with your children. Recognizing the financial impact that always accompanies a divorce, the Florida legislature has implanted laws that provide for the financial support of a spouse, i.e., alimony. Alimony is defined as payments from one former spouse to another. It is intended to make divorce as fair and equitable as possible. Alimony is also commonly referred to as spousal support or maintenance.
Alimony provides a means of leveling the playing field following a divorce. Often, one partner in a marriage will sacrifice professional or educational opportunities for the sake of the family, marriage, or household. For instance, a husband may elect to stay home with the children while his wife pursues a higher paying job that will better the family. If the couple divorces, the husband in this scenario would have fewer economic and professional opportunities than the wife due to his sacrifice. In this and similar cases, a court may order the wife to pay alimony to the former husband until he can provide adequately for himself.
Types of Alimony in Florida Divorce Cases
Florida Statute 61.08 sets out the following available types of alimony:
- Bridge the gap: This form of alimony only exists for the short-term. It is awarded for up to two years and is intended to make the transition from married to single life easier for the recipient spouse. Bridge the gap alimony begins once the divorce becomes final and will help the recipient spouse with identifiable short term needs, such as living expenses that will allow the spouse to finish a degree.
- Rehabilitative: This special form of alimony assists the recipient spouse in acquiring the training or education necessary to garner appropriate employment. A spouse seeking the award of rehabilitative alimony must submit a rehabilitative plan that outlines the funds needed to reach the intended goal.
- Durational: When other forms of alimony are insufficient to meet a spouse’s needs, the court can award durational alimony. This alimony does not require submission of a rehabilitative plan. Durational alimony can extend no longer than the length of the marriage. For instance, if you and your spouse were wed for three years, you could receive a maximum of three years of durational alimony.
- Permanent: Permanent alimony is just as it sounds—alimony that continues indefinitely. Permanent alimony is generally reserved for longer marriages and is awarded to allow a spouse to enjoy the standard of living experienced during the marriage. Permanent alimony is most often awarded in situations where the recipient spouse lacks the ability to become self-supporting at a standard of living close to the marital standard. Age, illness, or disability is frequently a factor in the award of permanent alimony.
Your experienced divorce attorney will examine your individual circumstances and help to uncover whether you may be eligible for an award of alimony. A divorce attorney can advocate on your behalf to reach a favorable alimony settlement or present your case in court and allow the judge to rule as to your alimony award.
If you are interested in learning more about your legal options regarding your Florida divorce, contact the experienced Florida Divorce Attorneys at the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. to schedule a one hour consultation. We serve family law clients throughout West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Wellington, Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Martin County areas. Contact us today at (561) 429-3924, or via email at [email protected].