Alimony in Florida
Alimony is when one spouse pays the other for varying lengths of time during or after a divorce. Alimony is granted on a case-by-case basis in Florida, with the higher-earning spouse typically paying the lower-earning spouse. While Florida currently has six types of Alimony, many bills have been introduced in recent years, proposing limiting the amount of alimony courts can grant and possibly prohibiting Permanent Alimony. Governor Scott vetoed the previous alimony reform bill because he was concerned that it would prioritize the needs of the parents over the needs of the children.
Permanent Alimony is a type of Alimony that is paid indefinitely. Permanent Alimony is typically granted in long-term marriages, as defined by the state (marriages lasting more than 17 years). Permanent Alimony necessitates that one spouse pays the other for the rest of their lives. Permanent Alimony is intended to allow a spouse who has been out of the workforce for a decade or more to maintain the standard of living that they enjoyed during the marriage but would be unable to achieve on their own. Permanent Alimony is rarely awarded in medium-term marriages (7 to 17 years) and rarely in short-term marriages (a marriage lasting seven years or less).
Durational Alimony, like permanent Alimony, seeks to maintain the standard of living of both spouses during the marriage. However, the length of Alimony cannot exceed the duration of the marriage. A spouse who has been married for eight years, for example, can only receive durational Alimony for eight years. This type of Alimony is frequently granted in second and third marriages.
This Alimony is typically awarded in short and middle-term marriages to assist the spouse who may have had to leave the labor force or pursue an education for the sake of the marriage in getting back on their feet. Rehabilitative Alimony should help a spouse finish their education or obtain job training. The spouse must present a plan for how the money will advance their career to receive this Alimony.
Temporary Alimony is a more common type of Alimony in which the spouse with the higher income pays for the divorce court costs for the spouse with financial needs. Once the divorce is finalized, Alimony is no longer payable.
Bridge The Gap Alimony
Bridge-the-gap Alimony in Florida is limited to two years and is intended to help a spouse with legitimate and identifiable short-term needs. This Alimony will typically cover the costs of a spouse’s education and living expenses while the house is on the market.
While lump sum alimony may support a spouse, it is more commonly used to balance out the distribution of benefits in marriage.
Factors That Influence Alimony
A judge will not award Alimony if they believe the paying spouse will suffer financial hardship or if the Alimony would provide the receiving spouse with more net income than the paying spouse.
Before awarding Alimony, a court will consider the following factors:
- Standard of Living during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The emotional and physical well-being of spouses
- Ages of spouses
- Both parties’ financial resources, including marital and non-marital assets
- Earning potential of both spouses, including employability, education level, and vocational skills
- Both spouses’ contributions to the marriage including child care, education, homemaking, and career development.
- Tax issues around Alimony.
- The sources of income for both parties
- Other factors that must be considered to do justice to both parties
It’s important to remember that the courts consider a marriage had ended on the day the divorce was filed, not when the couple started living apart. It’s also worth noting that if one spouse did something wrong to the other that cost the couple money, that will be factored into alimony calculations.
Alimony modification requirements differ depending on the type of Alimony. Bridge-the-gap Alimony does not allow for changes. If the recipient does not follow the plan they devised or if the plan is completed early, rehabilitative Alimony may be modified. Alimony may be modified if either spouse’s financial circumstances change while receiving rehabilitative, durational, or permanent Alimony. On the other hand, the duration of Alimony rarely changes, even though the amount given may. Both durational and permanent Alimony is terminated if either spouse dies.
Alimony and Taxes
Most alimony payments are tax-deductible for the payer and taxable for the recipient. On the other hand, the IRS will not tax either spouse if the Alimony is paid in a lump sum and distributed as property.
Given the tax consequences, there are times when trading off between division of assets and Alimony makes sense, as division of assets is not taxable.
Call us immediately at 813-902-3576 for additional information or fill in the Family Law Intake Form on our website, located under the Contact & Forms Menu.
Brandon Legal Group
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Brandon FL, 33510