What Types of Alimony Can a Florida Court Award?

What Types of Alimony Can a Florida Court Award?

At the Sherrard Law Group, we understand that navigating the rocky road of divorce is never enjoyable and rarely easy. In our last blog, a basic explanation was provided of factors a Florida court must consider when determining an award of alimony in a dissolution of marriage. Next, we will go over the different types of alimony a court may award and the requirements to obtain and keep the court ordered judgment.

  1. Temporary Alimony: Temporary alimony is awarded to one spouse during the pendency of a divorce. Temporary alimony is to last only from the point of separation until the entry of the final judgment of divorce. Typically, one spouse requests the court to enter a temporary alimony award at the time he or she files for divorce. Temporary alimony automatically ends when a court enters the final divorce order; at that time, the court may order another type of alimony be paid to the lower-earning spouse if warranted. Temporary alimony may be modified; however, it may not be waived.
  2. Bridge-the-Gap Alimony: The purpose of bridge-the-gap alimony is to help the lower-earning spouse transition from married life to single life. Bridge-the-Gap alimony is generally awarded to assist a lower-earning spouse with “legitimate, identifiable short-term needs.” These needs may include money needed to purchase bedroom and living room furniture, money to secure an apartment or house and set up utilities, and money to pay moving fees. An important factor to note is that Bridge-the-Gap alimony cannot be modified and is limited to a two-year duration. Finally, an award of Bridge-the-Gap alimony does not preclude the lower-earning spouse from claiming and receiving other types of alimony as well.
  3. Durational Alimony: Durational alimony is a newer form of alimony, often awarded when no other form of alimony is appropriate. It is usually awarded in short and moderate-term marriages. One key element of durational alimony is that it cannot last longer than the duration of the marriage. This means if a marriage only lasts six years, then the maximum award of durational alimony that the court could assign would be six years. The amount of durational alimony is modifiable with a showing of a substantial change in circumstances; however, the length of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances. Lastly, durational alimony is generally awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate.
  4. Rehabilitative Alimony: Rehabilitative alimony is meant to assist a spouse in establishing the capacity to become self-sufficient. This is usually done through either the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials, or the acquisition of education, training or work experience to develop necessary employment skills or licensing. Rehabilitative alimony allows the lower-earning ex-spouse to obtain job-related education or training to assist him or her in providing for his or her own needs. In order to receive an award of rehabilitative alimony, the lower-earning former spouse must provide the court with a “specific and defined rehabilitative plan” that explains how the lower-earning spouse expects to rehabilitate himself or herself. Rehabilitative alimony may be modified if there is a substantial change of circumstances, if a spouse fails to follow the plan, or if the plan has been fulfilled. Remarriage does not automatically terminate rehabilitative alimony, but it may be considered as a factor when deciding if it will affect the rehabilitative plan.
  5. Permanent Alimony : The majority of cases in which permanent alimony is awarded are long-term marriages. As previously noted, a long-term marriage is a marriage with a term of seventeen years or more. While more common after the dissolution of long marriages, permanent alimony should still only be considered when there is a need and “no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances.” Permanent alimony is intended for situations where a spouse is incapable of financially caring for himself or herself, and the financial need will last for the rest of his/her life. Thus, permanent alimony is designed to continue until a court enters an order terminating its payment. However, permanent alimony may be modified based upon substantial changes in circumstances. Lastly, permanent alimony terminates upon the death or remarriage of either spouse.

Remember, a skilled divorce attorney can make a monumental difference in the determination of whether alimony is awarded and the amount of that award.  That is why we invite you to contact the Sherrard Law Group for a consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys. In addition to assisting in understanding how alimony may affect you, we will provide you with the support you need to handle other issues that may arise as divorce proceedings develop. The qualified attorneys at the Sherrard Law Group will work diligently to help you receive a reasonable and fair divorce outcome. We look forward to serving as your trusted legal representatives during this difficult time.

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