Alimony Page

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Florida Alimony Overview and Issues

Florida has significant new changes to Alimony Law.

Alimony Law in Florida:

Recent changes in the Florida Divorce Statutes have affected alimony law. Long term marriages (more than 17 years), short term marriages (less than 7 years), and moderate term marriages (more than 7 and less than 17 years) are now specifically defined so that these categories are the same state-wide regarding divorce and alimony issues.

“Durational” alimony is now available, as well as the previously available forms of bridge-the-gap, permanent, rehabilitative, and temporary. If your marriage is less than 7 years, it is unlikely that permanent alimony will be awarded unless there are very unusual, compelling circumstances. A spouse in a short term marriage is more likely to qualify for bridge-the-gap or rehabilitative alimony, if any alimony is awarded.

Marriages that otherwise qualify for alimony can be awarded durational alimony, but not for a length of time longer than the marriage itself, under the current law. Permanent alimony has not changed as to its basic nature, but it has fairly recently been put in jeopardy of being terminated if the recipient enters into a supportive, romantic relationship.

The standard for awarding alimony remains generally to be need of the recipient for alimony and the ability of the payor to pay alimony. If you have a question about what type of alimony you might have to pay, or what type of alimony you could receive, you should consult a member of the Florida Bar that practices regularly in family law. Dunlop, Dunlop & Dunlop is such a firm. Contact us at
407 628-4300 or 1-800-536-5179
Email us: dunloplaw@aol.com

Question: How long do you have to be married in Florida before you become eligible for Alimony?
Answer: Although a person in a marriage of less than seven years is less likely to be awarded alimony than a person in a longer marriage, there is no rule against a person being awarded alimony in a marriage of any duration. The factors that determine whether one spouse will pay the other spouse alimony, what kind of alimony, how much, and for how long are case-specific. That is why you need to provide your attorney with detailed information about (1) your and your spouse’s ability to earn income, (2) the possibility of you or your spouse acquiring income-producing skills or improvement in existing skills, and (3)other financial and economic information that your attorney can use to research past awards of alimony and to prepare legal arguments that will likely convince the judge to award or not to award alimony in your case.

Question: How do you determine how much alimony to pay?
Answer: At the present time in Florida, alimony does not have a statutory formula that can be used to determine amounts of alimony. Whether to award alimony, what kind of alimony to award, and how much for how long, is up to the discretion of the trial judge as to what is equitable and fair under the specific circumstances of your case. However, as stated above, your attorney will research what has been awarded in other cases that are somewhat similar to yours in facts and jurisdiction in order to make strong legal arguments as to what alimony should or should not be awarded in your case.

Question: What happens if no alimony is awarded at trial, and the person later needs to have some ordered?
Answer: If alimony is not awarded at trial, (or agreed on in a settlement agreement), a litigant probably can never modify the judgment to have any alimony awarded. On the positive side, if only one dollar is awarded in alimony (or agreed to be paid), and if the alimony is modifiable, then it could be modified upward at a later time, if the payor improves his/her income in the future. Your attorney will usually file a petition to modify the final judgment in order to raise the alimony amount. Research should be done to find out what amounts of alimony are likely to be awarded in a case with your specific amounts of income and expenses of the parties.

Question: What happens to alimony payments when the parties retire?
Answer: The retiring payor is entitled to apply for a reduction in amount of alimony payments if alimony that he or she pays is modifiable under the agreement or the final judgment. The retiree must still prove a reduction in income and that he or she is not going to be working at the same job. The person who is receiving alimony might be eligible for an increase in alimony if the payor is not retiring. These are going to be fact-specific cases as well as dependent on case law and statutory law updates that might be applicable to the specific circumstances of each individual case. Be sure to have information about income and expenses of the parties prior to a consultation or inquiry.

Question: Does alimony stop if a person who is receiving alimony begins a live-in relationship with someone?
Answer: Alimony can be modified or stopped if the person receiving alimony enters into a materialistic, supportive relationship with a certain other person — either having his or her material needs met by the certain other person, or by paying toward the material needs of a certain other person. That other person is defined as not being a close blood relative and not being certain dependent persons of the payee.

This information is not to be used as legal advice.
FOR ANSWERS SPECIFIC TO YOUR SITUATION, PLEASE CONTACT US AT
Email us: dunloplaw@aol.com
Phone: 407-628-4300 or 1-800-536-5179