Florida Alimony Law
A discussion of alimony law in Florida
If you or your spouse are seeking alimony, you must gather facts and build arguments based on the statutory factors. The Florida alimony statute requires a judge to consider certain factors, shown on our alimony puzzle. You must have provable facts supporting or denying each and every one of the factors. The most important factors are “the length of the marriage,” the need for money of one spouse, and the ability of the other spouse to pay that amount.
Alimony is unpredictable and you should never assume the judge will give alimony or refuse to give alimony. That is why you should do your best to look at the factors and gather supporting facts in your favor.
The main types of alimony are:
Permanent periodic alimony - the traditional type of alimony that continues until death or remarriage.
Rehabilitative Alimony - also called “bridge the gap” – payments for a definite amount and a defined period of time. The payments allow the spouse to return to school or make other life adjustments as necessary.
Lump Sum Alimony - not really a form of alimony but a way to distribute property. If the spouse that has property (such as a business) does not have a pool of cash, the court allows regular payments for a defined period of time. In rare situations, regular-support type alimony may be paid in one lump sum and referred to as lump-sum alimony in your final order.
Durational Alimony - A new type of temporary alimony. Normally granted for a specific length of time – not to exceed the length of the marriage.
Bridge the Gap Alimony - a type of alimony designed to help someone transition from married life to a self-supporting life. This type of alimony is normally very short term.
Length of your Marriage and Alimony
The most important factor for alimony is how long you were married. As the length of the marriage increases, alimony is more likely. But all of the other factors must also support an alimony judgment. The time is counted from your marriage date until the date of the divorce petition.
|The probability you will pay or receive alimony – by number of years married|
Alimony in Florida is one of the more unpredictable areas of family law. Unlike child support, there is not a guarantee of alimony, nor a set amount if alimony is granted by the court. You can have the same set of facts and get 10 different decisions in 10 different courts. Some states have alimony guidelines – but not Florida. Florida alimony statutes require the judge to consider a list of factors when deciding the issue of alimony. Each factor is shown above. Unlike other states, Florida does not embrace the concept of legal separation. That means alimony is rarely, if ever, granted unless a couple is going through the divorce process.
Common Florida Alimony questions and answers
Q: Does Florida have a standard for alimony calculation?
A: Florida alimony law does not set specific numbers and there is no standard for amounts. But we do have an online tool that uses a national model for alimony.
Q: I have been married for 3 years and my spouse threatened me with alimony.
A: Under Florida law, alimony is usually ordered for long term marriages – over 12-14 years long. For a short term marriage such as 3 years, alimony is rare, if not impossible.
Q: Can the amount of alimony payments be changed?
A: Yes. Alimony payments depend on the income of both spouses. If income significantly changes, you can seek an alimony modification. Depending on the exact type of alimony, it is normally always modifiable.
Q: Is Alimony tax deductible?
A: Normal alimony, referred to as permanent periodic alimony is usually taxable to the recipient and deductible to the payer. But if the two of you enter an agreement for alimony, you can designate the tax treatment and the IRS will respect that designation.
Q: I have been married for 4 years and my spouse has supported me the entire time. Can I get alimony?
A: Very unlikely. In a 4 year marriage, Florida alimony law considers you an able-bodied adult, able to earn a living. Normally you need to be married at least 7 years for a decent alimony claim.
Q: We have been married for 5 years and separated for several years. If I don’t get divorced for another 5 years, can I qualify for alimony?
A: Again, very unlikely. Your financial existence was separate from your spouse when you began to live apart. You cannot milk out the length of your marriage just to prove alimony is needed. Also, by living on your own for that many years – you have proven you can live without alimony.
Q: My married is 20 years long. Does that mean I will definitely receive alimony?
A: You still need to prove your need for alimony, and your spouse’s ability to pay alimony. But based on the length of marriage, your alimony claim may be pretty strong.
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Attorney Alberto Ayo
assessing an alimony case