Florida alimony law can be confusing and many people want to know what they can expect during a divorce in Florida. If you have questions about alimony and alimony laws in Florida, get the answers from the attorneys at Cordell & Cordell.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does alimony work in Florida?
The first thing one should know about alimony in Florida is that there is no mathematical calculation in determining alimony such as there is with calculating child support.
The court has broad discretion to decide (1) entitlement to alimony, (2) the amount of alimony, (3) the duration of alimony, and (4) the type of alimony. There are, however, perimeters to which the court is bound.
Who is entitled to alimony in Florida?
The overriding legislative intent in establishing alimony law is that the State of Florida does not want to support an impecunious spouse by way of welfare, food stamps, and the like. Therefore, courts will look to the breadwinning spouse to ensure that the other spouse does not go homeless or without basic living necessities.
What this has translated to by way of laws and judicial interpretation is that there are two spouses who enjoyed a certain standard of living throughout the marriage, and, upon dissolution of that marriage, both spouses should continue to enjoy that same standard of living.
To the extent that one spouse cannot afford that established standard of living with his or her own income, the other spouse must provide supplemental income. Of course, what usually occurs upon dissolution of marriage is that the standard of living enjoyed by two people in the same household will go down when there are two households to maintain.
In determining whether to award alimony in Florida, the court will first make a determination as to need and ability to pay and then the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
• The standard of living established during the marriage;
• The duration of the marriage;
• The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party;
• The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and marital assets and liabilities distributed to each;
• The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
• The contribution of each party to the marriage, including services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party;
• The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common;
• The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award; and
• All sources of income available to either party.
How is alimony calculated in Florida?
The two primary factors the court must consider in determining the amount of alimony are the need of the payee spouse and the ability of the paying spouse to pay. The court may impute income to a spouse who is earning less than the spouse is capable of earning through his or her best efforts.
To impute income means that the court will pretend that the spouse is earning a certain amount of income for purposes of calculating the amount of alimony needed or the amount the paying spouse is able to pay.
How long does alimony last in Florida?
There is a rebuttable presumption against an award of permanent alimony in a short-term marriage, which is 7 years or shorter. There is a rebuttable presumption for an award of permanent alimony in a long-term marriage, which is 17 years or longer. There is no presumption for or against permanent alimony in a moderate-term marriage, which is a marriage greater than 7 years but less than 17 years. The type of alimony generally dictates the duration.
What are the different types of alimony in Florida?
• Permanent: Permanent alimony is alimony for support until the remarriage of the payee spouse or the death of either party. Permanent alimony is always modifiable with a showing of a substantial change in circumstances.
• Rehabilitative: Rehabilitative alimony is intended to provide assistance to a spouse while he or she regains the ability or establishes the capacity for self support. The party seeking rehabilitative alimony for retraining has the burden of proof as to the retraining plan, the object of rehabilitation, the cost of the plan, the period necessary to complete the plan, and how the plan is workable to make the party self supporting.
• Bridge-the-Gap: Bridge-the-Gap alimony is an award for a specific short duration to assist the spouse with the transition from married life to single life and is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs. The length of the award may not exceed 2 years. The award of this type of alimony is non-modifiable.
• Lump-Sum: Lump-Sum alimony is a certain sum paid at one time or installments and the court will order this type of alimony only when an award of permanent alimony is justified and the court finds special circumstances warranting a lump-sum payment such as if the paying spouse is in poor health.
• Durational: Newly created, durational alimony is to provide a payee spouse with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either spouse or upon the remarriage of the payee spouse. Durational alimony is modifiable with a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. However, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
• Nominal: Nominal alimony may be awarded in cases in which the court finds entitlement to alimony, but due to insufficient resources available at the time of trial, the court cannot award sufficient alimony to meet the needs of the payee spouse. The nominal alimony award reserves jurisdiction for the court to later modify the amount of alimony.
Subsequent to an award of permanent alimony, the court may terminate or modify that award if it finds that the payee spouse is in a supportive relationship. There are several factors the court must consider before finding a supportive relationship exists, but a supportive relationship is essentially a relationship akin to a marriage and one based on financial support.
Alimony may be taxable to the payee spouse and deductible by the paying spouse. Retroactive alimony may be awarded back to the date of filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
The court may order the paying to maintain a life insurance policy as security for an alimony obligation. Alimony will be considered as the payee’s income for purposes of calculating child support.
Finally, in determining a proper award of alimony, the court must consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
How do I avoid alimony in Florida?
One of the best ways to avoid an alimony obligation is by agreement between the parties. Working out an agreement with your spouse is one of the ways to ensure that there is no alimony obligation from you to your spouse. These agreements can happen before marriage, but chances are you may already be married, so therefore an agreement named a postnuptial agreement, aptly named for agreements after marriage, would be appropriate to assist you in avoiding having an alimony obligation.
Another way to avoid alimony in Florida is via eliminating need from your spouse. The analysis that Judges use to determine an alimony obligation is the oblige’s need v. the obligator’s ability to pay. So consistently asking oneself about how much one spouse would potentially need in alimony, how much can the needy spouse assist in contributing to their own need and the difference between the needy spouse’s need and their ability to contribute to their need.
How does alimony work in Florida?
Under Florida law, alimony is granted at a spouse who has a need may be awarded to bridge the gap, be rehabilitate (intended to a spouse to a position where he or she can take care of expenses without assistance), alimony may be durational (for a set period of time) or permanent in nature. Alimony may be paid on a monthly basis, or it may be awarded in a lump sum or a combination of the two.
Is alimony taxable in Florida?
In Florida, if your divorce was finalized from January 1, 2019, and you have an alimony obligation, it is not tax-deductible and if you receive an alimony obligation, you aren’t required to pay taxes on the money received either.
How much is alimony in Florida?
As mentioned before, alimony is calculated based on the need of the oblige and the obligator’s ability to pay. The American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers provides a guideline, which takes 30% of the obligor’s gross annual income minus 20% of the oblige’s gross annual income to estimate an alimony obligation. Florida judges have broad discretion when it comes to determining alimony amounts.
Is Florida an alimony state?
Yes, Florida is a state where one may be required to pay alimony. Florida is one of the few states that offers bridge-the-gap alimony, which helps the oblige/recipient spouse meeting legitimate short-term needs while transitioning from married life to single life.
What qualifies you for alimony in Florida?
What qualifies a recipient spouse for alimony in Florida are several factors, among them:
The standard of living established during the marriage
The length of the marriage
Both spouse’s financial resources, including the non-marital, marital property, assets, and liabilities
Each spouse’s earning capacity, educational level, vocational skills, and employability and, if applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to find employment
Both spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including homemaking, childcare, education, and career-building of the other spouse
Whether either spouse will have parental responsibilities to minor children
Tax consequences of alimony, if any, to both spouses
All sources of income to both spouses, including income available through investments
Any other factor the court deems necessary to create a fair alimony award
There is no formula for judges to use when deciding how much and what type of alimony is appropriate. In addition to the above factors, the court must also ensure that the paying spouse’s net income is no less than the supported spouse (unless there are extraordinary circumstances.) Judges have broad discretion when deciding the type (or types), duration, and amount of alimony appropriate for your case.
How long do you have to be married to get alimony in Florida?
Permanent alimony or long durational alimony awards are usually reserved for long-term or moderate-term marriages. Generally, short-term marriages are only eligible for short-term forms of alimony. Under Florida law, a short-term marriage is a marriage lasting less than seven years. A moderate-term marriage is classified as a marriage lasting between 7 and 17 years. A marriage lasting longer than 17 years is considered a long-term marriage. See case law at Fichtel v. Fichtel.
How much alimony does a wife get in Florida?
A wife may not be the sole oblige for alimony in Florida, a husband may also be an oblige or recipient of alimony. As mentioned before, alimony is calculated based on the need of the oblige and the obligator’s ability to pay. The American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers provides a guideline, which takes 30% of the obligor’s gross annual income minus 20% of the oblige’ s gross annual income to estimate an alimony obligation. Florida judges have broad discretion when it comes to determining alimony amounts.
Who gets alimony in a divorce in Florida?
In Florida, a spouse in a long-term marriage (more than 17 years), can be ordered to pay permanent lifetime alimony. This alimony obligation lasts until one of the parties dies or until the recipient spouse remarries.
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