Alimony can be one of the more complicated and highly contested issues in a Florida divorce. The courts in Florida have been given the discretion to award alimony. Although discretionary, the court’s award or denial of alimony must fall within the statutory parameters of Section 61.08 of the Florida Statutes. In any divorce case, the court may award alimony to either party in the form of bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent in nature. In determining whether to award alimony, the court is required to find the following:
- the party requesting alimony has an actual need; and
- that the other party has the ability to pay.
After the court finds that a party has an actual need and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony, the court must then determine the type and amount of alimony that it will award. The type and amount of alimony awarded is very fact sensitive and rests entirely on your specific situation. The relevant factors the court considers in determining the type and amount of alimony awarded include:
- Standard of living established during the marriage, duration of the marriage;
- Age and the physical and emotional condition of each party;
- Financial resources of each party;
- Earning capacities, educational levels and employability;
- The contribution each party has made to the marriage;
- Responsibilities each party will have over their minor children from the marriage;
- Tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award;
- Sources of income available to either party; and
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Another factor the court may consider is the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded. Based on the relevant factors listed above, the court can award different forms of alimony, which include the following:
Bridge-the-Gap Alimony: is intended to provide support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single, who has legitimate identifiable short-term needs. Furthermore, the length of Bridge-the-Gap alimony awards may not exceed two years of support.
Rehabilitative Alimony: provides assistance to a spouse while he or she regains the ability for self support. Rehabilitative alimony awards require that a specific rehabilitative plan be submitted to the court and made a part of the order awarding this type of alimony.
Durational Alimony: is designed to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time not to exceed the length of the marriage. Durational Alimony can also be awarded following a marriage of long duration–(a marriage of 17 years or more is presumed long-term)–if the court finds that there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. Furthermore, an award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving the alimony. Although the amount of an award for Durational Alimony can be modified upon showing a substantial change in circumstances, the length may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances.
Permanent Periodic Alimony: provides for ongoing monthly support payments until the death or remarriage of the party receiving the alimony. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. Furthermore, an award of permanent alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship.
Lump Sum Alimony: is only granted if an award of permanent periodic alimony is justified, the justification for a lump sum award rather than a periodic award is found, specific findings are included in the judgment, and there is money available for such a lump sum award. Lump sum alimony may also be awarded as a vehicle to effectuate an equitable distribution of property. The distinction between treating a lump sum alimony award as support or a property distribution is very important for enforcement purposes. Lump sum alimony intended as support payments can be enforced through contempt proceedings.
The court may find that one or more forms of alimony apply to your situation. Whether you are the spouse seeking alimony or the other party who is facing an order requiring payment of alimony, it is crucial that you find a competent and skilled West Palm Beach alimony lawyer. The issue of alimony in your case can potentially have a substantial impact on your current and future financial situation. The attorneys at the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. will aggressively represent your rights. Avoid making costly mistakes that may turn your life into a long-term financial nightmare, contact our offices today to schedule your one hour consultation. Call us at 561-429-3924 to schedule a consultation.
The Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. assist clients in all Divorce and Family Law Matters throughout West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Delray Beach, and Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. We also offer legal representation to clients who reside in Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Hendry, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties.