If a couple divorces or separates, one partner may have to pay the other alimony. Alimony is financial assistance that one spouse pays to the other to help maintain their standard of living after a divorce. Learn about alimony and how it works below.
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a payment from one spouse to another. It is typically ordered following a divorce or legal separation. Alimony provides financial assistance to a spouse who earns less than their partner or has been left in a worse financial position due to the divorce. Historically, alimony payments were common when one spouse worked full-time while another stayed home. Now, alimony may assist the lesser-earning spouse after a divorce.
Factors that determine Alimony
Various factors determine who pays alimony, how much, and how long. To receive alimony payments, the spouse must prove they have a financial need and that the other spouse has the ability to pay. Factors such as the length of the marriage, marital assets, standard of living, and the ability of each spouse to earn are considered when determining alimony payments. The length of the marriage is a significant factor:
- Short-term marriages are seven years or less.
- Moderate marriages are between seven and seventeen years.
- Long-term marriages are 17 years or longer.
A spouse’s earning capacity is another major consideration. This analyzes a spouse’s potential to gain employment by viewing their work history, education, and the current job market.
Types of Alimony
There are five types of alimony in Florida. Here is a breakdown of each type and whether it may apply to your situation.
Permanent alimony may be appropriate in cases of a long-term marriage or where one spouse cannot become self-sufficient once the marriage dissolved, such as a spouse that is disabled, elderly, or caring for a family member with special needs. In long term marriages, the standard of living before the dissolution may also considered. Permanent alimony payments are made indefinitely with no set time frame. The court must make a finding that no ther form of alimony is appropriate.
Temporary Alimony payments are made during divorce proceedings to assist a spouse during the lengthy divorce process. Temporary support payments end when the divorce is finalized, and any appropriate alimony is awarded.
Florida is one of the few states that offers bridge-the-gap alimony payments. This type of payment cannot be modified and ends after a maximum of two years. The purpose of bridge-the-gap alimony is to help with living expenses during the transition from married to single life, such as taking care of bills while selling the family home.
Rehabilitative maintenance payments are one of the most common forms of Alimony. In this arrangement, a spouse must submit a plan to become self-sufficient for court approval. Alimony is then paid in the meantime, allowing the spouse additional time to become self-supporting.
Durational alimony is similar to rehabilitative, but it does not require a plan to be submitted to the court. Durational alimony is used to assist the spouse in getting back into the work force and getting back to an appropriate income. Durational alimony payments cannot exceed the length of the marriage.
Modifying Alimony payments
Modifications of alimony payments are rare. If the court finds that there is a need for a form of alimony, but the paying spouse’s income is temporarily reduced, there may be an upward modification when the paying spouse’s income recovers. If the receiving spouse’s income goes up in an unexpectedly significant fashion, the alimony might be reduced. Likewise, if the paying spouse’s income is significantly reduced in an unexpected fashion, the alimony may be reduced. There are also limits on which types of alimony can be modified. For instance, bridge-the-gap payments cannot be changed once they are implemented. Durational alimony can vary in amount but not the allotted time. With rehabilitative alimony, payments may be modified if the plan is finished early. Some alimony payments also end if a spouse remarries.
Get legal help to establish Alimony
Our experienced family law attorney, Thomas R. Peppler, can help you throughout your divorce and work towards the best possible outcome for you and your family. We will help you get the assistance you need to transition from married to single life. Call us at 407-316-2045 to discuss your options.