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Spousal Support In The Sunshine State

In some recent presidential elections, Florida has been a battleground state that both Republicans and Democrats legitimately believed they could win. In recent years, Florida has also been a battleground state in terms of spousal support. In the last few years, alimony reformers have nearly succeeded in rewriting the spousal support laws, only to be rebuffed at the last minute by gubernatorial vetoes.

Basically, this ongoing dispute is a disagreement on the nature of alimony. Some people, mostly divorced men who pay spousal support, feel that the law has been twisted into a vehicle that redistributes wealth between the ex-spouses and punishes obligor spouses; other people, mostly divorced women who receive alimony, insist that long-term payments are a necessity, at least in some cases, to maintain some semblance of financial parity.

Types of Alimony in Florida

Section 61.08 of the Florida Statutes sets out five different forms of spousal support, and one or more of them may be available in each case. They are:

  • Temporary: Alimony pendente lite automatically terminates when the divorce is finalized; this support is designed to give the obligee spouse short-term financial assistance for unexpected, divorce-related expenses like attorneys’ fees, day care costs, and rental deposits.
  • Bridge the Gap: These payments can start after the divorce is finalized and can last a maximum two years, so the obligee spouse can have money to help pay living expenses while attending school, waiting for a house to sell, or in a similar situation.
  • Rehabilitative: If bridge the gap alimony is insufficient to attain self-sufficiency, the obligee spouse can submit a plan outlining the amount of money and time needed to obtain sufficient education or skills.
  • Durational: These payments can last up to the length of the marriage to provide the obligee spouse with a longer-term income stream; the requesting spouse must show that the other forms are inadequate.
  • Permanent: If the judge finds that the obligee spouse will never be economically self-sufficient, possibly due to a disability, permanent alimony may be appropriate.

Most alimony orders can be terminated or modified based on the obligor spouse’s death, changed circumstances, or a “supportive relationship” between the obligee spouse and a third party.

Determining Amount and Duration of Payments

Essentially, the judge must determine the nature and extent of the obligee spouse’s financial need, as well as the obligor spouse’s ability to pay. Specifically, the court may consider:

  • Each spouse’s current and future income,
  • Any financial resources belonging to the obligee spouse, including marital and separate property separate property awards,
  • Standard of living during the marriage,
  • Relative age, health, employment history, and educational levels,
  • Length of the marriage, and
  • Relative contributions to the marriage, both economic and noneconomic.

Fault in the breakup of the marriage, i.e. adultery, is typically a factor only if the adultery financially harmed the other spouse; for example, if the wife spent thousands of dollars for gifts to her boyfriends.

Rely on Experienced Attorneys

Alimony in the Sunshine State is basically a two-part inquiry. For prompt assistance in this area, contact an experienced family law attorney in Port St. Lucie. At Eighmie Law Firm, P.A., after hours visits are available.

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