Which Party Generally Has To Pay Alimony In A Divorce?
In Florida, alimony is based on several factors, including one side’s need for alimony versus the other side’s ability to pay it. There are multiple types of alimony. When the divorce is pending, there is what’s called temporary alimony, which just maintains the status quo. For example, if one party has been paying the mortgage and car payment and the other has been paying the utility bills, then that arrangement could be maintained on a temporary basis during the divorce process. Likewise, one party might also directly pay his spouse a certain amount of alimony on a temporary basis.
Once the divorce is finalized, lifetime or durational alimony may be awarded, which would mean that one spouse would receive a certain amount of money every month for as long as the paying spouse is alive or until the receiving spouse remarries. There’s also bridge-the-gap alimony, which helps someone transition from being supported in a relationship to being on their own. Rehabilitative alimony has a purpose associated with it, such as the purpose of getting a nursing degree in order to be self-sufficient.
When making the decision about alimony, the court will consider the incomes of each party, the lifestyle that the parties have become accustomed to during the marriage, and other things of that nature. People often get divorced while only one spouse is working outside the home and the other is raising the kids. If the parties have enough money to maintain that arrangement, it might be in the best interest of the children to keep the arrangement in place after the divorce. In Florida, there’s no formula for determining the amount of alimony; it is determined on a case-by-case basis. Child support, however, is based on a mathematical formula that takes into account the parents’ income and schedules.
How Long Does Alimony Or Spousal Support Generally Last?
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.
What Factors Can Hurt Someone’s Chances Of Receiving Alimony Or Spousal Support?
When awarding alimony, the first issue a judge must consider is: Does the person requesting financial support NEED the alimony? Assuming the person requesting alimony can convince the judge they truly NEED financial assistance from the other party, then the next issue the judge must decide is: How much ABILITY TO PAY does that person have to pay the other person alimony?
If the person requesting alimony has sufficient independent income to meet their needs, then there will not be a need for alimony. So, you will decrease your chance of being awarded alimony if you do anything to decrease your need. For example, if you never worked during the entire marriage and then you get a job while the divorce is going on, theoretically your need will be reduced.
In general, one side’s bad behavior will not affect entitlement to alimony. As a no-fault state, adultery is only relevant in Florida if there is waste of marital assets on the paramour. If you and I are married and I buy my girlfriend a diamond Tiara with our retirement savings, I’ve wasted our retirement savings on my paramour, and you, as my wife, would have the right to say, “That’s waste, I want my half back.” It’s a possibility, but it’s very rare. I don’t want to turn anyone away by saying it’s not worth it, but I would rather talk on an individual level about it. Claiming marital waste is a battle and it’s tough to prevail, but I have been successful in claiming it. As far as equitable distribution and marital waste, adultery may be relevant. As far as alimony goes, it doesn’t matter; the judge will not want to get into the he-said-she-said discussion because it doesn’t matter when evaluating need and ability.
For more information on Paying Alimony In A Florida Divorce, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (561) 893-9993 today.
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