Divorce proceedings can encompass a wide range of considerations to be dealt with, including issues of spousal support, or alimony. At Beaulieu-Fawcett | Newell Law Group, P.A., we understand that these challenges can be both complex and highly emotional, and we are prepared to work tirelessly on your behalf to support your best interests.
Call our alimony lawyers in Delray Beach today at (561) 600-5711to schedule your free case assessment. We are here to support you however we can.
What is Alimony?
Alimony refers to the monetary payments made from one spouse to another. Either a husband or a wife can be required to pay alimony in Florida. This may consist of a single lump-sum payment or a series of payments for months or years. Alimony in Florida is based on need and the ability to pay.
How is Alimony Calculated in Florida?
There is no set calculation for alimony payments in the state of Florida, instead a judge will look at each party's financial needs and ability to pay. A rough guideline would calculate about 30% of the higher earning spouse's gross annual income, minus about 20% of the lesser earning spouse's gross annual income, to determine an estimate of the alimony payment.
Other determining factors in alimony calculation include:
- Gross income of the payer
- Gross income of the payee
- Liquid assets of payee after the divorce
- How many years the marriage lasted
What Factors are Considered When Determining Alimony?
Florida law requires the consideration of several factors when determining entitlement to alimony, such as:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living maintained during the marriage
- All sources of income available to either spouse
- The age, physical condition, and emotional condition of each spouse
- The contributions made to the marriage by each spouse
- Each spouse’s earning potential, education, and overall employability
- Each spouse’s financial resources
What are the Different Types of Alimony in Florida?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, the state of Florida may award up to five different varieties of alimony:
- Temporary - alimony that is awarded during the pendency of the divorce.
- Rehabilitative - payments made until the receiving spouse is able to develop a career and support themselves financially. Rehabilitative alimony is currently limited to a maximum duration of five years and can be terminated if the recipient ex-spouse successfully completes the designated plan ahead of schedule.
- Bridge-the-Gap - temporary payments made until the divorce is finalized and the receiving spouse is able to get on their feet. This usually never lasts more than two years.
- Durational - If bridge the gap alimony does not last long enough, this form of alimony may extend the duration further.
How Long Does Alimony Last in Florida?
The duration of alimony in Florida varies from case to case and depends on the decision of the court. The most important factor in calculating how long alimony will last is the length of the marriage. If you ended a short-term marriage (i.e. one lasting less than ten years), then alimony will also likely be short-term.
Moderate-term marriages (lasting 10 to 20 years) or long-term marriages (lasting more than 20 years) will usually qualify for durational alimony (alimony for a limited predetermined period) or permanent alimony (lifetime alimony payments that conclude only with the death of one party or the remarriage of the recipient).
As of the changes to alimony laws effective July 1, 2023, the revised regulations regarding durational alimony entail the following provisions:
- Couples who have been married for less than three years are no longer eligible to receive durational alimony in Florida.
- Unless exceptional circumstances exist, the duration of durational alimony cannot exceed 50% of the duration of a short-term marriage, 60% of the duration of a moderate-term marriage, or 75% of the duration of a long-term marriage.
- The determination of the amount and duration of durational alimony is based on various factors, including the age and employability of the recipient ex-spouse.
- The awarded amount should either meet the recipient's reasonable needs or not exceed 35% of the difference between the net incomes of both spouses, whichever amount is lower.
- The requirement to maintain the quality of life established during the marriage has been eliminated from the consideration of durational alimony.
Every divorce case is different, so it’s important to talk to a lawyer to get a better idea of what to expect in terms of alimony in your specific situation.
What You Need to Know About Florida's New Alimony Law
Florida's new alimony overhaul law introduces significant changes to the existing system. The key provisions of the law include:
- Addition of Lump-Sum Payments: The law now allows for the possibility of lump-sum payments as an alternative to ongoing periodic payments.
- Burden of Proof Shift: The person seeking alimony support is now responsible for providing evidence to demonstrate their need for financial assistance.
- Modification Process: The law establishes a streamlined process for ex-spouses who make alimony payments to seek modifications in cases where retirement or other conditions change their ability to fulfill the payment obligations.
- Judicial Discretion: Judges now have the authority to reduce or terminate alimony, support, or maintenance payments after carefully considering several factors, including:
- Age and health of the paying spouse
- The customary retirement age in the paying spouse's occupation.
- The potential economic impact on the recipient if alimony is reduced.
- The influence of adultery on either spouse and its resulting financial consequences.
- The motivation and likelihood of the paying spouse returning to work after retirement.
- The presence of a supportive relationship between the recipient ex-spouse and another non-related party.
- Burden of Proof for Supportive Relationship: The burden of proving the existence of a supportive relationship between the recipient ex-spouse and a non-related party has been removed, shifting the responsibility away from the ex-spouse making payments.
Overall, Florida's new alimony overhaul law brings forth significant changes that provide greater flexibility, consideration of various factors, and a streamlined process for modifying alimony payments in changing circumstances.
How to Avoid Alimony in Florida?
Here are some ways to avoid alimony in Florida:
- Get a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a contract that is signed before marriage and sets forth the rights and obligations of the spouses in the event of divorce. A prenuptial agreement can include a provision that waives alimony.
- Have a short marriage. Typically alimony is awarded in cases where the marriage has been extended, and the spouses have become financially interdependent. The court is less likely to award alimony if your marriage is short.
- Show that your spouse can support themselves. If your spouse can support themselves financially, the court is less likely to award alimony. You can show this by providing evidence of your spouse's income, assets, and debts.
- Show that you would be in financial hardship by alimony payments. If you would experience financial hardship by alimony payments, the court may be less likely to award alimony. You can show this by providing evidence of your income, expenses, and debt.
- Negotiate a settlement with your spouse. If you agree with your spouse on alimony, the court will likely approve the agreement.
It is important to note that there is no guarantee that you will be able to avoid alimony in Florida. The family court will consider all of the facts and circumstances of your case when making a decision.
If you are concerned about maintenance, discuss your case with our alimony attorney in Delray Beach, FL.
Alimony After a Divorce
Divorce is a difficult and often emotionally-charged process. While most desire to see their divorce resolved as quickly as possible, it is critical that you have what you need to make well-informed decisions, as they will have a far-reaching effect on your family’s future. If you are contemplating or beginning a divorce and believe that you may be entitled to or responsible for alimony payments, our alimony attorneys in Delray Beach can help.
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