Alimony is a frequently contested issue in divorce and dissolution cases. Florida courts may order alimony to be paid to either party and such alimony may be temporary, permanent, rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap or a combination of more than one of these forms. The courts consider a variety of factors in determining whether alimony should be awarded and what form of alimony is most appropriate in light of the facts of the case. First, the courts will determine whether a party has an actual need for alimony and whether either party has the means to pay said alimony. If and when these determinations are made, the court will then consider various factors to determine the form of alimony that is appropriate. The court may look towards the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the age and health of each party, the financial resources of both parties, the earning capacity of the parties, the contributions made by either party during the marriage, child care responsibilities placed on either party, tax effects of an alimony award, and any other factor necessary to achieve a just and equitable outcome.
FORMS OF ALIMONY
Provides short-term assistance (not to exceed two years) to a spouse in order to facilitate the transition from being married to being single. Though bridge-the-gap alimony is not modifiable in duration or amount, it does terminate upon the death of either spouse or upon the re-marriage of the recipient spouse.
May be awarded to provide for a dependent spouse who is not financially able to meet his or her needs following the dissolution. Permanent alimony may be awarded to a spouse in cases of long term marriages (greater than 17 years), moderate length marriages based upon clear and convincing evidence of the factors, or in short term marriages in the case of exceptional circumstances. Permanent alimony awards terminate upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse. Modification or termination may also be appropriate where a substantial change in circumstances may be shown or there is evidence of a supportive relationship as set forth in Florida Statutes 61.14. Permanent alimony may be awarded periodically, as a lump sum, or as a combination of the two.
May be awarded to help a spouse acquire the means to become self-sufficient by redeveloping skills or credentials or acquiring further education, training, or experience necessary to develop the skills and credentials needed for employment. If such alimony is granted, a rehabilitative plan must also accompany the order. Rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated if it can be shown that a party deviated from the rehabilitative plan, there is a substantial change in circumstances, or if the rehabilitative plan has come to a satisfactory completion.
Temporary or Durational Alimony
May be appropriate in cases where the award of permanent alimony is deemed inappropriate. Durational alimony may be awarded in cases where the marriage was short (generally less than 7 years) or moderate (generally 7-17 years) in duration or where a marriage was long in duration but continual support is unnecessary. Durational alimony is modifiable and may be terminated upon a showing of substantial change in circumstances. The period of time set for durational alimony may not be modified absent exceptional circumstances and may not be greater in length than the marriage itself. Termination of durational alimony is appropriate upon the death of either spouse or upon the re-marriage of the recipient spouse.