The Five Types of Spousal Support in Florida
Recently, reformers have tried and failed to change Florida’s alimony laws. These reformers wanted to make spousal support determinations more like guideline-based child support determinations. But, Florida’s spousal support law is still quite subjective. It tries to balance the obligee’s financial need and the obligor’s ability to pay. That’s different from the obligee’s financial wants and the obligor’s willingness to pay.
Some factors to consider in both the amount and duration of payments include the length of the marriage, noneconomic contributions to the marriage, earning capacity of each party, and any premarital or other agreements between the parties. These same factors usually determine alimony modification actions.
In both original determinations and subsequent modifications, a Port St. Lucie family law attorney helps preserve your legal and financial rights.
Particularly if the obligor was the filing party, judges frequently award temporary alimony. If the obligee is not working outside the home, these payments could be substantial. Temporary alimony helps obligees meet immediate, divorce-related costs, such as living expenses, rental deposits, and attorneys’ fees payments.
Judges usually award alimony pendente lite (while the matter is pending) during the temporary hearing. Judges usually make initial child custody and parenting time decisions at this hearing as well. These orders technically expire when the divorce becomes final. However, in many cases, the temporary orders are the blueprint for the final orders.
Bridge-the Gap Alimony
These payments are essentially extended temporary alimony payments. Sometimes, obligees need some additional financial help before they can become self-sufficient. Bridge-the-gap alimony payments last a maximum two years after the divorce is final. Some common situations include a party waiting for a house to sell and a prolonged job search.
If financial circumstances change, either party can file a motion to modify these payments. Furthermore, payments automatically terminate upon the obligor’s death or the obligee’s remarriage. “Remarriage” is a rather broad term, as outlined below.
These extended payments might be the most common form of spousal support in Florida. Rehabilitative alimony is appropriate if the obligee needs several years to become financially self-supporting. Perhaps the obligee must obtain a college degree, work some low-paying jobs to re-enter the workforce, or develop a side hustle into a full-time home business.
Obligees must develop and submit written rehabilitation plans to the court. They need not be extremely detailed, but they must be specific enough to convince the judge rehabilitative alimony is appropriate. If the obligee fails to follow the plan, the obligor may move to terminate support.
The three previous kinds of alimony are designed to eliminate the obligee’s need for financial support. Durational alimony, on the other hand, is designed to equalize the standard of living between the former spouses. So, it’s only appropriate if there is a significant and permanent difference in economic status. And, durational alimony payments are capped at the length of the marriage (e.g. ten years of payments after a ten-year marriage).
These payments terminate if the obligee remarries. Recently, the law changed on this point. “Remarriage” could include a financially supportive, long-term relationship.
Judges only award permanent alimony in very limited situations. Generally, either the obligee must be disabled or the obligee must have custody of a disabled child. The length of the marriage is also relevant, in addition to the party’s circumstances.
Contact a Dedicated Lawyer
Florida’s alimony laws are rather subjective and subject to interpretation. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie divorce lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. After-hours and home visits are available.