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Florida Alimony and Spousal Support: Who Pays Alimony in Florida, How Much, and How Long

Florida Alimony: Florida Spousal Support Payments in Divorces and Requests to Change or Modify Alimony in Florida

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When a couple decides to divorce in Florida, one of the financial considerations will be whether or not either spouse will be entitled to financial support from the other spouse, commonly known as “alimony.” How much, and for how long, one ex-spouse is legally obligated to pay money to their ex-wife or ex-husband in alimony payments depends upon a variety of factors.

State of Florida Alimony Law: Florida Alimony Statute

Florida alimony, also known as Florida spousal support, is provided for in Florida Statutes 61.08, which provides the following:

(1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court may grant alimony to either party, which alimony may be bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent in nature or any combination of these forms of alimony. In any award of alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded. In all dissolution actions, the court shall include findings of fact relative to the factors enumerated in subsection (2) supporting an award or denial of alimony.

Types of Florida Alimony

As defined in Florida Statute 61.08, Florida has 4 types of spousal support or alimony:

1.  Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs, and the length of an award may not exceed 2 years.

2.  Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony has a monthly payment made over a set time period for a “rehab” purpose, so an ex-spouse can return to college to complete their degree or to learn a new trade, for example.

3.  Durational Alimony

Durational alimony is awarded in situations where the ex-spouse needs financial help for a set period of time but there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. An award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.

4.  Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is awarded to an ex-spouse who cannot meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage, and it will be in a sufficient amount to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage. Permanent alimony happens only when the Florida divorce judge cannot find any other form of alimony to be fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties.

Does Everyone Have to Pay Florida Alimony? No.

According to Florida law, the court must decide whether to award alimony or maintenance, and this is done by providing evidence to the court so the judge can make factual determinations that (1) one of the spouses has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and (2) the other spouse has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance. Only if it is found that (1) one party has a need for alimony and (2) the other party has the ability to pay, will the procedure of determining Florida alimony amounts, etc., come into play.

What Does the Court Consider in Deciding Florida Alimony?

Factors that the Florida family law judge considers in awarding alimony or spousal support includes (from Florida Statute 61.08(2):

(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.

(b) The duration of the marriage.

(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.

(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.

(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.

(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.

(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.

(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.

(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.

(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

How Florida Alimony Is Paid

Florida law does not distinguish between the four types of Florida alimony, and any of the four types of Florida spousal support can be paid as (1) a lump sum, one-time payment; (2) a series of monthly payments; or (3) a combination of these two, as decided by the Florida divorce judge or by the parties’ agreement, and delineated in the judge’s Alimony Court Order.

Moreover, until that final Alimony Court Order or Final Divorce Judgment is entered by the Florida judge, the ex-spouses may be placed under temporary alimony payment plan while the divorce case proceeds through litigation.

Challenges to Current Florida Alimony Law: Seeking to Reform Florida Spousal Support Statutes

In Spring 2013, the Florida Legislature sent a proposed law to the Florida Governor’s Office that would have removed permanent alimony in Florida; however, Governor Rick Scott vetoed the bill with the explanation that alimony is important for Florida families and that current Florida laws already provide for people to return to court and alter their alimony requirements as circumstances change and lessening or ending spousal support is shown to be justified to a Florida judge.

Florida alimony reform is still active, however. Proponents for ending Florida’s permanent alimony provisions argue that times have changed and the law, as it currently reads, promotes injustice in several situations – and that Florida judges can’t always fix these things, such as:

  • Current Florida alimony law does not require the ex-spouse to become self-sufficient.
  • Current Florida spousal support law does not consider ex-spouses living with new significant others, but declining to marry because of the loss of Florida alimony payments.
  • Florida’s present permanent alimony provisions can force ex-spouses into bankruptcy.
  • Current Florida alimony statutes force a return to court which involves the expenditure of attorneys’ fees by both ex-spouses.
  • Current Florida alimony law does not take into consideration the lowering of income when an ex-spouse retires (which forces some people to delay retirement because of alimony payment burdens).

Whether or not Florida alimony law will be changed in the future is uncertain. Today, if you have a Florida alimony issue or a concern about Florida spousal support, current Florida laws require you to be involved in the court process with a judge overseeing the Florida alimony matter.


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