Alimony is a basic recognition that one spouse may have more resources and skills than the other to support his or her self moving forward following a divorce.
The purpose of alimony is to limit any unfair economic effects that a divorce may have on either individual and to level the playing field. If one spouse has chosen to forgo a career to support the family, alimony will allow that individual the time to develop job skills that will allow them to enter into the workforce to support themselves. Another purpose of alimony may be to help a spouse continue a standard of living that they had while married.
Factors to Consider in Alimony Cases
The court will consider several factors in regards to show that the need for alimony is necessary. The ability for a spouse to pay almoney must also be taken into consideration. A court will not issue alimony in cases where the paying spouse will have significantly less income that the recipient.
Factors taken into consideration include:
-The standard of living during the marriage
-The length of the marriage
-The age of each spouse and any impairments that may hinder earning capacity
-Contributions that each spouse made to the marriage, financial and otherwise (salary, homemaking, child care, obtaining education, assistance in career building)
-The financial resources of the spouse seeking payments, including marital and nonmarital assets following the final divorce decree
-Whether or not the spouse will require additional education to enter the workforce to support themselves
-Tax consequences of the alimony award
-Responsibilities for minor children
Five Types of Alimony
In Florida, there are five types of alimony that a judge can issue: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent. Each type of alimony comes with it’s own set of guidelines and each are awarded in different circumstances.
Following changes to the laws regarding alimony in Florida earlier this year, a new formula was established for judges to use when deciding temporary alimony payments. It allows the judge to take into consideration factors such as number of years of marriage, the couple’s gross income, and for alimony to be modified if the former spouse’s income changes. This bill also allows judges to depart from from the awarding guidelines as they see fit.
Courts often award temporary alimony while a divorce is pending if one spouse requires financial support during the divorce process. It is automatically terminated following the a formal divorce decree, and may be replaced with another type of alimony.
Bridge the Gap Alimony
This is a form of transitional alimony that is designed to help a spouse go from being married to single. It is designed to cover short-term needs by allocating funds necessary to pay any bills associated with the transition. Bridge the Gap alimony cannot last longer than two years.
This form of alimony is similar to bridge the gap alimony, but takes it a step further by calculating the cost of a spouse being able to enter the workforce with appropriate skills. It is designed to help a spouse establish the ability to be self supporting.
There are times when a spouse may need to pursue different educational or vocational programs, or training to be able to obtain employment for self-sufficiency. A good example is someone who has given up a career path to maintain the home. A plan must be put together that takes into consideration the time required for a particular program to pursue a career, any associated costs such as license renewals or certifications, as well as the period of time that the spouse will require before achieving self- sufficiency.
If either spouse feels that the plan agreed to is being deviated from at any time a petition to modify can be ordered.
Durational alimony is usually awarded for short or moderately termed marriages. It is available to spouses who do not meet the circumstances outlined for the other types of alimony. Durational alimony can only be issued as a set amount for a set duration of time. For example, if a couple has been married for two years, alimony payments cannot last any longer than that. If there is a significant change in circumstances, a modification could be issued.
Permanent alimony is issued in cases of moderately or long termed marriages. It is available when a spouse does not have the ability to achieve a standard of living that was set in the marriage. A judge who grants permanent alimony must state the reasons that another form of alimony would be not be reasonable, and that permanent alimony is necessary.
In the past, most alimony payments were awarded to women whose former husbands were breadwinners. As the culture has changed, most marriages include a dual income household, where women are earning wages as well, and are viewed less dependent by the courts.
Also, men are becoming more likely to be primary parents. This has caused the tradition of men paying women alimony payments to shift, and the rise of women paying men is on the rise.
Understanding your options when it comes to alimony is an important task that Seff & Capizzi Law Group considers during any divorce. At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients with their divorce cases and provide valuable information for those that need assistance in understanding how to approach this situation in their own lives.
If you need assistance with alimony in your divorce, please call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 35 years of experience and offer a free consultation. Click here for more information about our family law practice and how Seff & Capizzi can help.