Family Law Attorney

pa alimonyAlimony or Spousal support is often awarded in dissolution of marriage actions. There are two basic questions that must be posed when determining whether alimony should be awarded: (1) Does the person requesting alimony need support from the other party? (2) Does the person who is being asked to pay alimony have the “ability to pay” support to the other party? If the answer to both questions is “yes”, the amount of the alimony and the period of time it is to be paid, must still be determined.

There are several different forms of alimony under Florida Statutes. In 2023, there was a significant change in the law relating to alimony. Permanent Periodic Alimony is no longer a form of alimony that can be awarded in Florida. Orders granting Permanent Periodic Alimony that predate the change in the law that became effective on July 1, 2023, are unaffected by this change in the law, however, may be affected by changes in the law relative to modification and termination of alimony.

Florida law now only allows for Durational Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, Bridge-the-Gap Alimony and Temporary Alimony. Courts may award one or a combination of these types of alimony and may order payments to be periodic (i.e. monthly) or paid in a lump sum.

In long term marriages, now defined as marriages of 20 years or more, Durational Alimony may be awarded for a period not to exceed 70% of the length of the marriage and in an amount not to exceed 35% of the difference between the incomes of the spouses.

In medium term marriages, now defined as marriages of 10 years through 19 years in length, Durational Alimony may be awarded for a period not to exceed 60% of the length of the marriage and in an amount not to exceed 35% of the difference between the incomes of the spouses.

In short term marriages, now defined as marriages of less than 10 years in length, Durational Alimony may be awarded for a period not to exceed 50% of the length of the marriage, an in an amount not to exceed 35% of the difference between the incomes of the spouses. * NOTE: under the new statute, Durational Alimony is not available at all in marriages of less than 3 years.

Bridge The Gap Alimony is short term alimony to help a party transition from married life to single life. It can be awarded in short, medium and even long-term marriages depending on the circumstances of the parties but is limited to a maximum period of two years.

Rehabilitative Alimony is another form of alimony that is awarded for the purpose of paying for the education and/or retraining of a needy spouse who has been out of the job market for some time or who has never worked. It is intended to restore or improve the spouse’s ability to be self-supporting.

Temporary Alimony is very short-term alimony usually for the purpose of providing support during the time the divorce case is pending. Courts have the broadest authority to award temporary support and often do so to ensure that the parties are able to support themselves and their children while the divorce case is pending.

Alimony is a complicated area of family law that is often litigated.

The analysis of any alimony case requires, at a minimum, an in depth analysis of each of the following questions:

  1. Does the spouse requesting alimony have a need for support?
  2. Does the spouse from whom the alimony is requested have the ability to pay the support?
  3. Is this a long term marriage? medium term marriage? short term marriage?
  4. Analyze the factors under 61.08
    1. The standard of living established during the marriage.
    2. The duration of the marriage.
    3. The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
    4. The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
    5. The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
    6. The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
    7. The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
    8. The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
    9. All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
    10. Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
  5. What is the income of the needy spouse?
  6. What is the income of the spouse being requested to pay alimony?
  7. How much support does the spouse need? How did he or she arrive at this figure? Is the need in keeping with the standard of living of the parties during the marriage?
  8. How much support is the paying spouse able to pay? What are the reasonable expenses and lifestyle of the paying spouse?
  9. If alimony is to be paid, what kind of alimony is appropriate?
  10. How long will it be paid?
  11. Is the Payor of retirement age? If not now, when?
  12. How will the retirement of the Payor affect the alimony obligation?
  13. Does the Payor have life insurance available to secure his or her obligation in the event of an untimely death?

As you can see, the analysis in alimony cases does not involve the mere application of a percentage of income or other simple mathematical formula. Neither is alimony awarded to a spouse as an entitlement or right, just because of the years of marriage, for example, or one spouse’s infidelity or monetary malfeasance.

If you are involved in an alimony dispute, it is wise to have counsel to represent you. This is a complicated area of the law with many pitfalls. We have experience handling alimony cases and we can help.

If you are seeking more information about how alimony affects you, then contact the Law Offices of Audrey A. Jefferis, P.A.

The divorce and Family Law Attorneys at The Law Offices of Audrey A. Jefferis provide services in the following counties: Pasco County, Pinellas County, Hernando County and Hillsborough County. Let us help you today!

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