Florida Alimony Requirements

By Heather Frances J.D.

In 2012, Florida legislators debated whether to reform Florida’s alimony laws, but the reform efforts were unsuccessful. Thus, Florida courts can still award alimony based on the circumstances of your marriage after considering certain factors. While Florida courts can order different types of alimony, in almost every instance, to qualify for an alimony award, a judge must find that one party has a need for it and the other party has the ability to pay it.

Types of Alimony

In addition to temporary alimony, which the court can order while a divorce is pending, Florida courts offer five types of alimony. A judge can order bridge-the-gap alimony to help the receiving spouse get on her feet financially once the divorce is final. Permanent, periodic alimony provides for monthly payments that end only when the receiving spouse remarries, cohabitates, or when one party dies. The court can award rehabilitative alimony to help a spouse obtain the necessary job skills or education for employment. Durational alimony is for situations where the receiving spouse needs alimony for a specific period of time -- or when permanent alimony is inappropriate. Lump sum alimony is appropriate when periodic payments don’t fit the situation, or when the court decides to award an asset from the marriage instead of periodic payments.

Length of Marriage

Courts typically do not award permanent alimony if you are married for less than 7 years, since there is a legal presumption against permanent alimony for marriages of a lesser duration. For marriages lasting 7 to 16 years, the court can make its decision without a presumption for or against permanent alimony. Once you are married at least 17 years, the court has a presumption to award permanent alimony if an alimony award is appropriate. If the duration of your marriage disqualifies you for permanent alimony, the court can still award other types of alimony.

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Factors

Florida courts must consider all relevant factors when determining alimony awards. These factors include the standard of living the couple had while married, the duration of the marriage, the age and condition of each spouse, both spouses’ financial resources, the contribution of each spouse to the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse and sources of income available to each spouse. The court will not award alimony unless, after considering these factors, it determines alimony is appropriate.

Income Requirement

Florida courts must also consider the balance of income between the spouses when awarding alimony. Without exceptional circumstances, a Florida court cannot award alimony if the award would leave the paying spouse with less income than the receiving spouse.

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References

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