Florida Statutes on Alimony

by Cindy Chung
Alimony may be an ongoing source of conflict during and after divorce.

Alimony may be an ongoing source of conflict during and after divorce.

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For a former spouse, alimony may serve as a difficult reminder of a past marriage. Florida law allows temporary alimony as well as permanent alimony. Alimony often becomes a contested issue in a divorce because the court-ordered payments can affect both spouses' finances significantly in the years following the divorce.

Divorce Process and Alimony

Alimony becomes relevant during several steps of the Florida divorce process. Temporary alimony may be an issue during the temporary hearings of a divorce action if either spouse needs financial support before the couple finalizes their divorce case. If the spouses plan to negotiate their own divorce settlement, they may sign a written agreement that includes alimony and submit their agreement to the court at any time. However, if the spouses have a contested divorce and likely need a family law trial, the court will consider post-divorce alimony at a specific time in the divorce process. In particular, Florida divorce statutes require the court to decide the issue of property distribution before considering an alimony award to either spouse.

Alimony Factors

In a contested divorce, especially if the spouses require a trial, a Florida court must consider several factors, outlined in state law, before choosing to grant or deny alimony, including each spouse's contributions to the marriage - whether as a breadwinner or as a homemaker, education and employability, health and age, and income and financial resources; couple's standard of living during the marriage; length of marriage; each spouse's responsibility for parenting the couple's children after divorce; and the tax consequences of alimony.

Marital Misconduct

Adultery and other types of marital misconduct often increase the amount of conflict between divorcing spouses. Florida allows its courts to consider adultery when deciding whether to require alimony payments. If one spouse can prove the other's adultery, the court may use that information to adjust the amount of alimony or deny alimony altogether. However, adultery is just one of the factors reviewed by the court; the court may find other factors that could affect the amount of alimony to be paid.

Types of Alimony

If a Florida court agrees that one of the spouses should receive alimony, the court must choose the appropriate type of alimony to be paid. Florida awards several types of alimony. "Bridge-the-gap" alimony is a short-term alimony award intended to cover less than two years, during which the recipient must prepare for financial independence as a single person. Similarly, rehabilitative alimony provides support for a spouse who needs education or training before re-entering the work force; it might last longer than bridge-the-gap alimony. Durational alimony sets a specified time frame for alimony, while permanent alimony continues until the recipient's death or remarriage.