Types of Alimony in Florida
- Permanent Alimony – is paid until the death of either party or until the recipient gets remarried.
- Lump Sum Alimony – the payment of a set amount(s) – usually done instead of another form of alimony when a lump sum is preferred.
- Durational Alimony – a relatively new form of alimony that is paid for a specific duration not to exceed the length of the marriage. This form of alimony is used when permanent alimony would not be appropriate.
- Rehabilitative Alimony – used for a short period to help a spouse get more education or work experience in order to become more self-supporting.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – used to help the lower earning spouse more easily transition to life as a single person.
- Temporary Alimony – paid while the divorce case is pending so that the status quo (i.e. bills and other expenses) can be maintained.
When a judge is asked to determine an award of alimony he or she will base their decision on the following factors:
- Length of the marriage
- Short term marriage (there is a presumption against permanent alimony where the marriage lasted less than 7 years)
- Moderate term marriage (there is no presumption for or against permanent alimony where the marriage lasted between 7 and 17 years)
- Long term marriage (there is a presumption for permanent alimony where the marriage lasted more than 17 years)
- The ability of the one spouse to pay alimony
- The need of the other spouse for the alimony
- Standard of living
The presumptions for or against permanent alimony are what are called “rebuttable presumptions.” This means that the party that the presumption is against has the burden of proving that alimony would not (or would) be appropriate in their specific case.
For example, suppose a higher earning Husband and a lower earning Wife are getting a divorce after a 20-year marriage. The law presumes that the Husband will pay permanent alimony because they have a long term marriage. However, this is not a guarantee of alimony for the Wife and the Husband has the opportunity to prove to the judge that permanent alimony would not be appropriate in their case.
Recent changes to the alimony statutes provided additional guidance to judges when making a determination about alimony:
- Any alimony award must not leave the paying spouse with “significantly less” income that the spouse getting the alimony.
- Permanent alimony is only allowed when the other forms of alimony (durational, lump sum, rehabilitative, etc.) would not be reasonable or fair under the circumstances of the case.
- Entitlement to permanent alimony in a moderate duration marriage (7 to 17 years) needs to be shown by “clear and convincing” evidence.
- There needs to be “exceptional circumstances” for an award of permanent alimony in a short term marriage (0 to 7 years).
Finally, it is important to note what alimony is NOT:
- Alimony is NOT a penalty to one spouse (for domestic violence or adultery).
- Alimony is NOT to be so high that it allows the receiving spouse to save for retirement or for “a rainy day.”
Alimony differs from child support in that there is no formula used to calculate an alimony amount and duration. Each case and marriage has its own unique circumstances. Please consult with an experienced Orlando alimony lawyer if you have any questions.