In Florida, in any dissolution of marriage proceedings, a court may grant alimony to either party in the form of bridge-the-gap support, rehabilitative support, durational support, permanent support and/or lump sum alimony. Alimony, also known as spousal support and/or maintenance, can be ordered in any combination of the above listed forms.
The first step in determining whether or not to award alimony is for the court to make a factual finding as to whether either party has the actual need for alimony and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony. If the court determines that a party has the actual need for alimony and the other party has the ability to pay alimony, the court will consider the following factors to determine the proper type and amount of alimony to award:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
- The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
- The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
- All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Despite Florida being a no-fault state, the court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.
For purposes of determining alimony, there is a presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.
The purpose of Bridge-the-gap alimony is to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony is not modifiable in amount or duration.
Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in establishing the ability for self-support through either the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials or the acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. In order to award rehabilitative alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan which shall be included as a part of any order awarding rehabilitative alimony. An award of rehabilitative alimony can be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.
Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances. However, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage. Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration. An award of permanent alimony is not proper in a short term marriage unless exceptional circumstances exist. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship.