Wife's Rights to the Husband's Lump Sums With a Divorce in Florida

by Mary Jane Freeman Google

    When spouses decide to divorce, they often must consider much more than simply ending the marriage and living separate lives. There are issues like property and debt division, alimony, child support and custody to contend with. Although each case is different, alimony is often an issue of great importance to divorcing spouses. If you live in Florida, several types of alimony are available, including lump sum alimony. However, which type your husband will be ordered to pay, if any, will depend on the circumstances of your case.

    Alimony and Divorce

    When you file for divorce, known as a dissolution of marriage in Florida, your divorce petition must inform the court of what you want awarded to you in the divorce; for example, the marital home or custody of your children. Therefore, if you wish to receive alimony, you must include this request in your petition. Once divorce proceedings begin, you also have the option of requesting temporary alimony, which is paid while the divorce proceedings are underway and terminates when the divorce is finalized. Since Florida, like all states, does not restrict alimony to women only, your husband may also request alimony.

    Types of Alimony

    Florida provides several alimony options. Rehabilitative alimony lasts a limited time, provided to help a spouse develop the education or career skills necessary to achieve financial independence after the divorce. Bridge-the-gap alimony is limited to a duration up to two years, provided to help a spouse transition from married to single life. Permanent alimony is long-term alimony, lasting until the recipient spouse remarries or either spouse dies; it is typically awarded in long-term marriages or when a spouse is unable to work due to age or physical or mental illness. Durational alimony is paid for a specific period of time, not exceeding the length of the marriage. These forms of alimony are paid periodically, such as monthly or semi-monthly. When periodic alimony is not appropriate, Florida courts have the option of awarding lump sum alimony instead.

    Lump Sum

    If the court orders your husband to pay lump sum alimony, you will receive a "lump sum" of money, property or both, to be paid all at once or in payments over a short period of time. Bridge-the-gap alimony may also be paid in this manner. Courts may award lump sum alimony for a variety of reasons; for example, when periodic alimony is unfeasible because the husband may flee the court's jurisdiction or the court believes reducing future interaction between the spouses is in the couple's best interests because the divorce is so contentious. Some examples of how a judge could award lump sum alimony include ordering a marital asset to be sold and the proceeds transferred to the wife or ordering a husband to pay his upcoming annual bonus to his wife.

    Additional Considerations

    If you and your husband are unable to reach an alimony agreement on your own, the court will make this decision for you. Florida courts consider a number of factors when deciding whether to award lump sum alimony and in what amount. Factors include the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, each spouse's age, health, earning capacity and financial resources, and any other factor the court finds relevant, including adultery. Although adultery does not mandate or bar alimony, the court may factor it into its evaluation. Additionally, unlike other forms of alimony, a lump sum award cannot be changed once the divorce is final, even if there has been a change in circumstances.

    About the Author

    Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

    Photo Credits

    • Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images