Setting the Amount and Duration of Alimony Payments in St. Lucie County
This time last year, the alimony tax deduction change dominated the headlines in this area. Before January 1, 2019, alimony payments were tax-deductible and alimony receipts were tax-reportable. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act eliminated both the deduction and the reporting requirement. A year later, it seems the change has had little effect on most divorcing couples.
So, Florida’s alimony landscape has not changed too much. That’s especially true since Florida’s alimony law has not changed much either, after several recent reform efforts fell short.
Since alimony is still an important part of a divorce property division in the Sunshine State, it’s very important that Port St. Lucie family law attorneys fully account for these payments, whether they represent obligors (people paying spousal support) or obligees (people receiving spousal support).
Amount of Payments
The aforementioned reform efforts would have made spousal support more like child support. Child support guidelines, based on things like the parenting time division and the parent’s income, are presumptively reasonable. But Florida judges have almost unlimited discretion when determining the amount of spousal support payments.
That being said, the law does set forth a number of factors to consider in this area, such as:
- Standard of living during the marriage,
- Amount of economic and noneconomic contributions to the marriage,
- Length of the relationship,
- Relative age, health, and earning potential of each spouse,
- All sources of income, including nonmarital property awards, and
- Agreements between the parties.
That last bullet point may be the biggest one. Most judges approve most alimony settlement agreements, as long as they are not blatantly one-sided and each spouse had an independent Port St. Lucie family law attorney throughout the entire process.
Fundamentally, the proper amount is related to the purpose of the payments. Is alimony a way to equalize the standard of living between the former spouses, or is it money to help the obligee become self-sufficient? These same considerations affect the duration of payments, as outlined below.
Duration of Alimony Payments in Florida
Based largely on the obligee’s economic need and the obligor’s ability to pay, the judge may order one or more of the following types of alimony:
- Temporary: This financial support helps obligees meet immediate needs, such as rental deposits and attorneys’ fees. These payments automatically terminate when the divorce becomes final.
- Bridge-the-Gap: These payments are essentially extended temporary alimony. Some obligees need additional short-term financial assistance, perhaps to finish a degree. Bridge-the-gap alimony lasts a maximum two years.
- Rehabilitative: These payments are basically extended bridge-the-gap alimony. Statistically, women have a harder time rebuilding wealth after divorce. Rehabilitative alimony in the short term helps level the financial field in the long term.
- Durational: These support payments are specifically designed to even the standard of living between the ex-spouses. Durational alimony is capped at the length of the marriage (g. ten years of payments following a ten-year marriage).
- Permanent: Judges rarely order permanent alimony. Generally, the obligee must have a disability which prevents him/her from ever becoming economically self-sufficient.
In most cases, either party may file a motion to modify the duration of payments. The law recently changed on this point. If the obligee is in a supportive relationship with another person, even if they are not legally married, the obligor might be able to stop payments.
Work with a Dedicated Lawyer
Florida’s alimony laws are quite subjective. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie divorce lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.