In generations past, alimony (also called maintenance or spousal support) was an amount of money that the husband would have to pay the wife after a divorce because of the common law understanding that it was the husband’s responsibility to provide for the wife. Since most women at the time did not work outside the home, this was necessary. Today, however, alimony can be paid by either the husband or the wife depending on the unique situation of their marriage. Understanding how Florida courts determine whether or not alimony is going to be awarded, and if so, for how much and how long, is important when preparing for a divorce.
Will Alimony Be Awarded?
The first thing to understand is that in most divorce cases, alimony is not awarded at all. This is because in many marriages both spouses work outside the home and have the ability to care for themselves after the marriage. When determining whether or not to award alimony, courts will look at a number of factors including:
- Employment – Are both spouses working? If so, how much do they earn. If not, what employment could the non-working spouse reasonably expect to find after the divorce?
- Length of Marriage – The longer the marriage, the greater likelihood that alimony will be awarded and the higher the amount of alimony awarded.
- Education – The education of each spouse can typically be linked to their future earning potential, and therefore their need (or lack of need) for alimony.
- Past Employment – If one of the spouses decided to stay home to care for the children, their past employment may be looked at to determine their earning potential.
Types of Alimony
If the judge decides that alimony will be awarded to one party, the next step is to determine which type of alimony is appropriate. The following options are available in Florida:
- Permanent Alimony – This is set up to continue for the rest of the spouse’s life. It is quite rare and only used when one spouse will be unable to support themselves at any time in the future.
- Durational Alimony – This is awarded for a set duration of time. For example, the end date could be set at the point where their youngest child reaches the age of 18.
- Rehabilitative Alimony – This is awarded until the receiving spouse hits a specific milestone. If the spouse is going back to school to finish a degree, rehabilitative alimony may be given until their expected graduation date.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – This is one of the more common options, and is a short-term alimony arrangement to help the receiving spouse transition into their new life alone. This type typically lasts no more than two years.
Amount of Alimony
The amount of alimony is completely determined by the judge. The only guidelines they must follow is that the alimony amount must be reasonable to help ensure both parties can support themselves going forward.
Get Help with Your Divorce
Whether you want to avoid paying alimony or make sure that you get the alimony you are entitled to, you’re going to need a good family law attorney. Contact the Vasquez de Lara Law group to discuss your situation, and get the representation you need.