Alimony Laws In the State of Florida
In Florida, alimony is based upon a number of factors. One of these factors is the length of time of the marriage.
This, however, is only one factor. A party qualifies for alimony based on not only the length of the marriage, but the need, and the other party’s ability to pay alimony in Florida.
In terms of the length of time, the Florida legislature has defined what a short-term marriage, moderate-term marriage and long-term marriage consist of in terms of years.
This is helpful in determining which type of alimony may be awarded.
In Florida, the length of the marriage is from the date of the marriage until the date of filing for the divorce.
According to Florida Statute 61.08(4), the Florida legislature has defined the length of marriage, which is a rebuttable (i.e. arguable) presumption, as follows:
- Short–Term Marriage is a marriage duration of less than 7 years
- Moderate-Term Marriage is one having a duration of more than 7 years and less than 17 years
- Long-Term Marriage is of a duration of 17 years or more
While it is important to understand how the courts will evaluate the length of the marriage when considering an alimony award, a certain length is not necessary for the court to begin considering awarding alimony in the case.
The probability of receiving certain type of alimony awards, such as permanent alimony, does increase as the length of the marriage increases, but a short-term marriage is not an absolute bar from receiving alimony.
Types of Alimony in Florida
Divorce often leads to concerns about alimony for both parties. State statutes control divorce and alimony in Florida.
Statutes determine the law associated with everything from qualifying for alimony to how the alimony will be paid.
Florida alimony is determined by the court and can awarded in the following ways F.S.68.01(1):
- Bridge-the-gap: this is for a term to help the needing party get from married to single life
- Rehabilitative: designed to provide support to the needing party to finish his/her degree, get work training (i.e. computer training). Or, any other trade that the individual may need help with in order to procure a job/career
- Durational: meaning support is determined for a fixed period of time
- Permanent: support is necessary forever to keep the needing party in a similar lifestyle to that developed in the marriage
- Temporary: meaning, for a variety of different potential factors, the alimony is limited to a specific purpose. This will eventually end, but the time frame is not necessarily certain. Likewise, it does not fall into the categories of the other four types.
The type of alimony awarded by the court is based on a number of different factors. The court may consider the adultery of either party in determining the amount to award in alimony.
However, the court must find facts in the case to support the award or denial of alimony.
The Case of Permanent Alimony in Florida
Alimony in Florida changes. More legislative changes are on the way.
Florida Statute 61.08(7) now states that there is no reason that durational alimony cannot be awarded in a long-term marriage. This is if there is no ongoing need for permanent support.
What this means for a client is that if the spouse requesting permanent alimony has an ability to care for him/herself and provide a lifestyle close to that of the marriage, then that spouse may be entitled to alimony for a set period of time, but not permanent alimony since there is no need for the same.
So, for example, when a party has been married for thirty years, but married when they turned 18, and both have careers, it is unlikely that a judge today will award permanent alimony because both spouses have the ability and means to earn income separate and apart from their marriage.
If the need and ability to pay alimony is present though, the judge will likely award bridge-the-gap or durational alimony.
Alimony keeps both parties in the lifestyle to which they have been accustomed during the marriage.
Over time, if both parties have the capability of maintaining that lifestyle without assistance, then Florida law is now saying the other spouse should not be required to continue paying support.
Let Wood, Atter, and Wolf Family Law Attorneys Help You
Our family law attorneys can represent you in your divorce and make sure that all parties receive a fair settlement. As experienced divorce lawyers, we will make sure to solve the most important problems created by divorce, including alimony.