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How long does alimony or spousal support generally last?

  • By: Andrew Merlo
  • Published: October 15, 2018

If it’s permanent alimony, it could last until the person receiving or paying it passes away, or until the person who is receiving it remarries. If a settlement agreement was reached through mediation that included a stipulation of it being non-modifiable, then the payments might continue regardless of whether or not the receiving spouse remarries or one of the spouses passes away.

Alimony is generally modifiable, while child support is generally non-modifiable. As more and more families become two-income households, courts are moving away from awarding permanent alimony. Florida happens to have some favorable alimony statutes in it. At the moment, there is a seven/17 rule, which means that a short-term marriage is one that lasted less than seven years, and a long-term marriage is one that lasted more than 17 years. A marriage that lasted between seven and 17 years is considered an intermediate marriage.

For a long-term marriage, the judge is supposed to presume entitlement to alimony. For a short-term marriage, permanent alimony typically won’t be awarded. There might be bridge-the-gap alimony, temporary alimony, or a lump sum of money awarded for a short-term marriage, but very rarely will permanent alimony be awarded. For an intermediate marriage, it could go either way; if the marriage lasted closer to 17 years than seven years, the judge might be more inclined to award permanent alimony, and if it lasted closer to seven years than 17 years, then the judge might be less inclined to award permanent alimony.

Depending on the ages of parties, their earning history, their education and their assets, they may have an independent income after the divorce. So, there are a lot of factors that come into play and there is no hard and fast rule as there is with child support. A good rule of thumb is that alimony will last for approximately half of the duration of the marriage. So, for a 10-year marriage, alimony may be awarded for five years. It might start out at a higher amount and decrease each month or each year. Ultimately, these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

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