Spousal support, also known as alimony, is regular payments made from one spouse to the other during a separation or after a divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to recognize that the spouse who is to receive alimony, contributed to the marriage, sometimes in other ways than bringing in an income. Spousal support is meant to assist that spouse to achieve financial independence, and have a chance to start over, where possible.
Spousal support or alimony, of course, only applies to people who were legally married; having children together does not count. The rules regarding spousal support vary from state to state, and are often classified based on the length of marriage.
Under Florida’s alimony laws, courts may consider these factors when determining whether to award spousal support and how much to award.
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including separate property and any award of marital property
- All sources of income, including investment income, available to either spouse
- Each spouse’s earning capacity, educational history, vocational skills, and employability
- Any time and expense required by the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain education and training for appropriate employment
- The marital standard of living
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s age and physical and emotional condition
- The adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including homemaking, child care, education, and helping the other spouse build a career
- Any tax consequences of the alimony award, and
- The responsibilities each spouse will have for any minor children they have in common
For short marriages, the court assumes that you have kept the same ability to support yourself that you had before you were married. Each spouse is expected to be substantially independent and self-supporting within a short period of time. Marriages over 5 years, are considered long marriages, so extended spousal support may be ordered.
There are several types of spousal support or alimony arrangements. Each arrangement is based on the varying circumstances and needs of the individual.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is for a term of up to two years. It’s an award of alimony to allow the receiving spouse to transition from married life to single life. It’s also a non-modifiable award of alimony, which means that the paying spouse can’t seek to terminate or reduce the amount or term of alimony, and the supported spouse can’t ask for an increase in the amount or duration.
Rehabilitative alimony is fixed spousal support paid for a specific period of time. This award can be modified for upgrades in education or new employment skills.
Permanent alimony is spousal support that is paid for an indefinite period of time. Although there is no fixed date when support ends, it should not be expected that payment will be for life. In order to alter such an arrangement, you must petition the court for a change.