What Matters When Calculating Alimony?
Under Florida law, there are six different types of alimony. Each type of alimony serves a unique, and sometimes overlapping, purpose. An alimony award is heavily dependent on the length of the marriage, which can be short-term, moderate-term, or long-term.
Short-term = Less than 7 years
Moderate-term = 7 to 16 years
Long-term = 17+ years
Types of Alimony
Temporary Alimony: This is alimony that is awarded during the divorce proceeding, which will automatically terminate upon entry of the final judgment of divorce.
Rehabilitative Alimony: This is alimony that is awarded to a spouse to allow him/her to pursue educational or other training in order to become self-sufficient. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded with a specific plan for the spouse to obtain the training needed for a specific purpose. For example, if the spouse intends to go to nursing school to obtain a 4-year B.S. degree in nursing with the goal of eventually working as a Registered Nurse, then the rehabilitative alimony plan would specify that the program will last 4 years, will cost X dollars in tuition and other costs, and that the spouse will need X months after graduating to obtain a suitable position.
Bridge-the-Gap Alimony: This type of alimony is designed to help the payee spouse “bridge-the-gap” from married life to single life. It is also known as transitional alimony, and will, for example, provide assistance with foreseeable bills and expenses associated with starting one’s new life without a spouse. This type of alimony cannot exceed 2 years and is not modifiable.
Durational Alimony: This type of alimony is most commonly awarded in short- or moderate-term marriages when rehabilitative or bridge-the-gap alimony are not appropriate. The purpose of this type of alimony is to provide assistance for a set period of time following the divorce. An award of durational alimony may not exceed the length of the marriage. The amount of the alimony award may be modified, but not the duration. It terminates upon the death of either party or remarriage of the party receiving the alimony.
Permanent Periodic Alimony: This type of alimony is usually awarded in moderate and long-term marriages. It is rarely awarded in a short-term marriage and only under extraordinary circumstances. The purpose of this type of alimony is to “provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties.” See § 61.08(8), Fla. Stat. Permanent periodic alimony may be modified, and it terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony.
Lump Sum Alimony: All of the above types of alimony involve periodic payments being made to a payee spouse. In lieu of this, the Court may award an alimony award as a lump sum payment to the payee spouse.
In determining whether an award of alimony is appropriate, a Florida court will consider several factors, including:
Standard of Living: The Court will consider the standard of living that the parties maintained during the marriage. If the parties were married for 20 years and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, owning several vacation homes and taking regular European vacations, then alimony should be awarded commensurate with that lifestyle, provided that there is an ability to pay. The Court should “ensure that each party’s standard of living comes as close as possible to the prior lifestyle, given the available financial resources.” Griffin v. Griffin, 906 So. 2d 386, 389 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005).
Duration of the Marriage: Was the marriage short-term, moderate-term, or long-term?
Age and Physical and Emotional Condition of Each Party: Are both spouses in their prime and able to work? Is one spouse disabled and unable to enter the workforce?
Financial Resources of Each Party: This includes each party’s nonmarital assets and the marital assets and liabilities that were distributed to each party in the divorce.
Earning Capacities, Educational Levels, Vocational Skills, and Employability of the Parties: Is one spouse well-established in a career as a CEO, while the other spouse has committed his or her life during the marriage to caring for the parties’ children? This is a weighty factor in a permanent alimony case. Also considered is how long it might take for the impecunious spouse to gain the skills or education needed to re-enter the workforce.
Contribution of Each Party to the Marriage: Did one spouse work as a stay-at-home parent to support the other spouse in pursuing educational and career goals? Considered along with the above factor, this is a weighty consideration in a permanent alimony case.
Responsibilities of Each Party Regarding Minor Children in Common: Do the parties have any children under the age of 18 or any adult children with special needs? Or are the children self-sufficient adults?
Tax Treatment of an Alimony Award: The Federal Tax Code treats an alimony award as income to the payee spouse and tax deductible by the payor spouse.
All Sources of Income Available to Either Party: The Court will consider all sources of income, including investment accounts, trust assets, and any other assets held by either party.
Any Other Factor: Florida family law courts are courts of equity. As such, this is a catch-all factor that allows the Court to consider anything necessary to ensure fairness and justice is achieved between the parties.
Sarasota Divorce Attorney
If you are filing for a divorce in Florida or if you have been served with divorce pleadings, the attorneys at Loftus Law are ready to assist you. The Loftus Law attorneys are compassionate, yet aggressive when necessary to protect their clients’ rights and ensure that they get what they are entitled to. We understand that a divorce is often difficult, emotional, and confusing, and we are here to help you navigate the process. Contact us to schedule your consultation, where we will take the time to listen, answer your questions, and explain your legal options.