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Alimony & Spousal Support

Will there be spousal support in my divorce?

The law authorizes the court to award permanent, lump sum, durational, bridge-the-gap or rehabilitative alimony to either party in a marital dissolution proceeding. In awarding alimony, the court must primarily consider the need for support of one spouse and the ability of the other to pay. The criteria used in determining whether an award of alimony is appropriate, the type of alimony that might be awarded and the amount of that alimony, also include the parties’ earning abilities, ages, health, and education; the duration of the marriage and the standard of living enjoyed during its course; the parties’ assets and liabilities (both marital and non-marital); and any other factor necessary to do justice. Although there are guidelines for determining the amount of child support, there are no comparable statutory tables for determining alimony. As such, it is vitally important to explore all legal avenues available to determine a party’s rights and responsibilities with regard to alimony. The experienced divorce lawyers of Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa can answer all of your questions and provide you with an educated opinion on whether alimony will be granted in your situation.

Types of Alimony and Spousal Support in Florida Divorces

Permanent Periodic Alimony: As a general rule, permanent periodic alimony is an amount of money required to be paid regularly until the judgment is modified or until either party dies or the receiving spouse remarries. Permanent alimony is an allowance for the support and maintenance of a spouse during his or her lifetime. Its purpose is to provide nourishment, sustenance and the necessities of life to a former spouse who has neither the resources nor ability to be self-sustaining. Some of the factors that may be considered in assessing whether there should be an award of permanent periodic alimony in a particular case include:

  • Age of the parties
  • Emotional and physical health of the parties
  • Duration of marriage
  • Present custody of minor children
  • Age and health of children
  • Education of both spouses
  • Reasons why spouse does not wish to work
  • Standard of living established
  • Expenses of each party
  • Work experience
  • Income history of the parties
  • Current income of each party
  • Assets of each party
  • Liabilities of each party
  • Homemaking and child care services during marriage
  • Contribution to education and career of spouse
  • Other services and finances contributed to marriage
  • Tax consequences
  • Marital misconduct affecting finances
  • Disparity of relative incomes following dissolution
  • Retirement or pension benefits
  • Potential income payor could be receiving

An assessment of all of the factors pertinent to your case must be made by a capable, experienced attorney. At Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa, we will explore all relevant factors to either determine your rights to receive permanent periodic alimony or to establish your defenses to a claim for alimony.

Rehabilitative Alimony: If a party is capable of becoming self-supporting, rehabilitative alimony may be appropriate. Rehabilitative alimony presupposes a potential for self-support that was not developed or was lost completely during the marriage. The recipient spouse is given time to develop new skills or employment potential. Rehabilitative alimony serves as an incentive for self-sufficiency. If after the rehabilitation period the receiving spouse will still be unable to earn sufficient income to maintain the marital standard of living, permanent alimony may then be awarded. Some of the factors that may be considered in assessing whether there should be an award of rehabilitative alimony in a particular case include the same factors used to assess an award of permanent periodic alimony, as well as some additional factors including the following:

  • Ability of party to become self-supporting
  • Previous education, skills, or training
  • Previous employment
  • Disability of party
  • Time required to obtain education or training
  • Contributions to marriage affecting present employability

Durational Alimony: Durational alimony is an amount of money required to be paid regularly for a period of time that cannot exceed the length of the marriage. Generally, an award of durational alimony may be awarded when there is no long term marriage and other factors deem such an award appropriate. Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony: Alimony sometimes serves a “bridge-the-gap” purpose. Generally, bridge-the-gap alimony is awarded in dissolutions of short-term marriages to allow for a transition from the standard of living during the marriage to either the standard before the marriage or the standard that the spouse would have attained if the marriage had not occurred. This type of alimony is generally awarded for a limited period of time.

Lump Sum Alimony: Lump sum alimony is a payment of a fixed and definite sum and is in the nature of a final settlement between the parties. Essentially, it is support alimony in a lump sum. Traditionally, the basis of lump sum alimony was the same as that for permanent alimony — the need of the recipient spouse and the ability of the payor spouse to pay. However, the law regarding lump sum alimony enables a court to ensure equity and justice between the parties by ordering one spouse to convey property to the other or choose the existing vehicle of lump sum alimony to achieve an equitable distribution. The criteria for this award requires findings of fact regarding the justification for the lump sum payment and an examination of the financial ability of the party making the payment. Lump sum alimony may be awarded not only as a monetary sum, but also in the form of real or personal property, the marital home being the most common example.

Our Florida family law attorneys often negotiate spousal support for a receiving spouse and defend alimony claims for a paying spouse as part of a divorce settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the attorneys at Orshan, Spann & Fernandez-Mesa will vigorously present your case for an award of alimony or your defense to an award of alimony to the court.

Alimony Modification

If there has been a substantial change of circumstances that has occurred from the time of the original award of alimony to the time that a claim for modification of that alimony is made, the court generally has jurisdiction to modify the alimony award by either increasing, reducing or extending the time for payment of that award. For example, if your ex-spouse who is receiving alimony has had his or her income increased, you may be entitled to petition the court to decrease or terminate your alimony payments. Alternatively, if you are receiving alimony and your ex-spouse is making more money or your needs have increased, you can seek to increase the amount you receive. When crafting settlement Agreements, we may consider attempting to establish alimony that is non-modifiable, if this is a solution that meets your needs. Our lawyers can help you determine whether or not you are entitled to a modification in the level of spousal support you are receiving or paying and we will also craft a resolution to your case that considers the benefits and detriments of whether you should establish the alimony as modifiable or non-modifiable.

Speak with one of our experienced attorneys to help you resolve your family law issues and transition into the next stage of your life.