In most divorces, the question of alimony comes up. Will I or he or she be entitled to alimony? If so how much?

There are several different types of alimony and each is based upon the needs of the recipient and the ability of the other party to pay. A party may have a legitimate need for some kind of financial support but the other party may not have any ability to provide it. Likewise, a party may leave the marriage with substantially more income than the other party but the other party does not or has not shown a need for support. Alimony is deducted from the paying party’s taxable income and included in the receiving party’s income.

Florida’s statute provides that a short term marriage is one that lasted less than 7 years and a long term marriage is one that lasted for over 17 years. A moderate term marriage falls between the other two.

In a short term marriage there is a rebuttable presumption that alimony is not required. The presumption is that neither party has changed his or her financial position enough to justify spousal support, much like roommates deciding to part ways. In a long term marriage there is a rebuttable presumption that durational or permanent alimony may be required. In this case, one party or the other has been living with a specific lifestyle for an extended time and may have been out of the job market for an extended time.

There are several different types of alimony that can be used to tailor a spousal support obligation to the facts in short, moderate or long term marriages.

Bridge the Gap Alimony is awarded for a short time. It is used to help a spouse adjust to a return to the job market after a short term marriage. Rehabilitative Alimony is used to assist a spouse to obtain new or improved job skills that will eliminate or substantially reduce any need for other forms of spousal support. This requires a specific plan as to what new or improved job skills are being sought.

Durational alimony, which cannot exceed the length of the marriage, is used in relatively lengthy marriages where the receiving spouse may have a long term need. Last, if there is no other form of alimony that will be fair, the court may award permanent alimony. It will last until the receiving party’s remarriage or the death of either party. This is typically used to help the “professional housewife” in a very long term marriage.

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