In determining whether to award or deny alimony to a spouse, the court considers the following factors: (1) the standard of living established during the marriage; (2) the duration of the marriage; (3) the age, physical, and emotional condition of each party; (4) the financial resources of each party; (5) the time necessary for a party to become self-sufficient; (6) each party’s contribution to the marriage, including financial support and services; and (7) all sources of income available to either party. This analysis also looks at one party’s need for alimony and the other party’s ability to pay alimony.
There are five types of alimony: permanent periodic, rehabilitative, bridge the gap, lump sum and temporary.
Temporary alimony is paid to a party during the dissolution action.
Permanent Periodic alimony is typically paid in monthly payments that continue until the recipient dies, the payor dies, the recipient remarries, or possibly cohabitates with another individual in a supportive relationship, as defined by Florida law. There are three requirements for permanent periodic alimony: (1) long term marriage, which is usually more than 15 years; (2) income disparity between the parties; and (3) the that recipient’s income from all sources does not meet the need established during the marriage. Again, each case differs due to the parties’ specific incomes and circumstances. Many people are misinformed by family or friends in this regard. A party must understand that alimony is awarded on a case by case basis.
Rehabilitative alimony is used to provide the recipient with money to eventually become self supporting. To receive rehabilitative alimony the spouse seeking the alimony must establish a rehabilitative plan. A rehabilitative plan must be specific and should address the object of the rehabilitation such as schooling or job training, the cost of the plan, and the projected time period necessary to establish the recipient’s ability to become self supporting.
Bridge the Gap alimony is typically used for short term marriages and is awarded for a short period of time. The purpose is to help the recipient meet short term financial difficulties associated with the transition from married to single life.
Lump Sum alimony is a “lump sum” amount not subject to modification. Lump sum alimony is awarded in three ways: (1) an award of a property interest; (2) a monetary support payment; or (3) awarded to insure an equitable distribution of marital property. There are two requirements for lump sum alimony: (1) the award must be identified as either necessary for support or to equalize the party’s status; or (2) unusual circumstances which would require a non modifiable award of support. Lump sum alimony frequently arises as a tool to award the marital home to one spouse. It can be paid in monthly installments or all at one time.
Modification of Alimony
The Court has the ability to modify the amount of financial support, either up or down that a spouse receives. Under Florida law, if the finances of either party or their circumstances change substantially which was not anticipated that the time the alimony was awarded, either spouse may request a modification of the alimony payment. Reduced or increased income of a payor spouse is not enough on its own for modification of alimony.
Further, alimony may be modified or terminated if the spouse required to pay support can prove the other spouse is involved in a “supportive relationship” with another individual.