Alimony or spousal support is where one spouse provides the other with funds in order to meet a spouse’s financial needs after the termination of their marriage. There are many factors involved with alimony, including whether one spouse is entitled to alimony in the first place, and the type, amount, and duration of alimony, if appropriate. The different types of alimony include temporary, lump-sum, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and durational (which will each be briefly discussed below). Although spouses can sometimes reach an agreement regarding alimony, the issue of alimony is usually a contentious and complicated one.
In Florida, for alimony purposes marriages are classified into one of three categories depending on the length of the marriage: “short-term marriages” for those less than 10 years; “moderate-term marriages” for those more than 10 years but less than 20 years; and “long-term marriages” for those more than 20 years.
Temporary alimony is a form of temporary relief that one can seek during the pendency of a divorce. It is designed to help a spouse with ordinary living expenses while the divorce is being processed. Divorces can take a long time to wind through the legal system, so sometimes it is necessary to obtain formal temporary alimony to secure your finances during a divorce. Once the divorce is finalized, temporary alimony will automatically cease.
Lump-sum alimony is an alternative to traditional alimony, wherein instead of periodic payments being made over a defined period of time, one spouse pays alimony in a lump sum, whether one single large payment, or broken up into a handful of large payments over a short period of time. The tradeoff for a lump-sum alimony payment is usually some type of reduction in the overall alimony amount in order to obtain it all quickly. For example: If Spouse A would owe Spouse B $500 of monthly alimony for 5 years, that would amount to $30,000 total. Spouse A may offer to pay Spouse B $25,000 over the next 3 months as lump-sum alimony in exchange for not making any other alimony payments. Spouse A would be receiving a discount on the overall amount being paid while Spouse B would have the ability to access a large amount of money much quicker than waiting for monthly payments to add up over the years.
This alimony is limited to no more than two years and is intended to provide the recipient with time to transition from married to single life. It is designed to cover identifiable short-term needs. Bridge-the-gap alimony is non-modifiable in amount or duration and will only terminate upon the death of either former spouse or the remarriage of the recipient.
Rehabilitative alimony is limited to no more than five years. It is intended to assist a spouse in establishing the capacity for self-support through redevelopment of previous skills or credentials, or obtaining education, training, or work experience. This alimony is only available for those who have demonstrated a specific and defined rehabilitative plan. Failure to comply with that plan is grounds for modifying or terminating this alimony.
Durational alimony is designed to provide the recipient with economic assistance for a defined period of time. Durational alimony may not exceed 50 percent of the length of a short-term marriage, 60 percent of the length of a moderate-term marriage, or 75 percent of the length of a long-term marriage.
Alimony can be very confusing. Different judges handle it differently, and the Florida Legislature proposes changes to the alimony statutes every year (succeeding in 2023). Artemis Family Law Group is here to help you better understand your alimony options, whether as the potential payer or recipient of alimony. Having reasonable and realistic alimony expectations at the beginning of your divorce will ultimately save you time and money throughout the divorce process and after. Please contact our office to learn more about your alimony options. Click here to schedule a consultation at your convenience.
Frequently asked Questions
Where Is Permanent Alimony?
The Florida Legislature eliminated permanent alimony in 2023. The longest alimony that is available now is durational alimony.
No. The new Florida alimony statutes provide that durational alimony may not be awarded for marriages lasting less than three years.
No. Even if the parties agree in a settlement agreement that child support is non-modifiable, the court will modify child support upon the showing of a substantial change in circumstances like normal, regardless of the modification language. Child support is for the benefit of the child and thus modification of it cannot be waived by a parent.
No. While child support can be calculated using a few key pieces of information, alimony cannot. Courts have relatively broad discretion when it comes to alimony, guided and restrained by the Florida Statutes. One recent change to the alimony laws that provides a little more predictability and consistency with alimony calculations, states that durational alimony is determined by figuring out the recipient spouse’s reasonable need for alimony, or an amount not to exceed 35 percent of the difference between the spouses’ net incomes. This makes it simpler to provide guardrails and determine what the maximum alimony figure could be based on the spouses’ respective incomes.
Will I Receive Alimony And Child Support?
Maybe. Alimony is factored into child support calculations, so if you receive alimony, the child support you receive will be less.