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

By Mary Jane Freeman

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.

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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.

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Divorce in Florida Family Law

Florida is a pure no-fault divorce state, which means the only reason for divorce in Florida is that a marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Neither spouse has to prove the other spouse caused the divorce, and there is no ground for divorce that assigns blame, such as adultery or cruelty. In Florida, divorce is called dissolution of marriage, and the courts issue divorce decrees addressing property division, custody, child support and alimony.

Non-Modifiable Divorce Laws in Florida

When couples divorce in Florida, they must resolve all marital issues before they can move on and start life anew. This includes deciding important matters like property division, alimony, child support and custody. While it is true that certain orders in the divorce decree are modifiable after divorce, such as child support and custody, others are not. Divorcing spouses must ensure that any issues important to them are thoroughly discussed during the divorce process and the final terms are satisfactory based on their long-term goals.

How to Calculate Lifetime Alimony in Florida

An understanding of the factors involved in a determination of the type and amount of alimony that can be awarded creates more realistic expectations heading into court. In Florida, lifetime alimony, also known as permanent alimony, can be deemed appropriate in certain situations. While the parties can reach a mutual agreement on the issue of alimony, the court will look to specific factors, including financial need and ability to pay, in ordering lifetime alimony payment amounts. Further, modification or termination may be requested if there is a substantial change of circumstances.

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