Alimony and spousal support have the same meaning, it is financial support through which a spouse with greater financial resources supports a former spouse. Unlike child support, there is no formula used to determine the amount of spousal support or alimony.
Spousal support is based on the financial ability of the "payor" spouse and the need of the “recipient” spouse for such assistance. The earning potential and income from the assets awarded to the receiving spouse are also considered.
Because there is no formula used in setting alimony, the experience, negotiating skills and creativity of your attorney is of paramount importance. Many lawyers do not have the requisite knowledge, skill and experience to take advantage of the role that the income tax laws of the United States play in negotiating an appropriate award of alimony.
Under Florida law, alimony is granted to a spouse and it can be awarded to bridge the gap, be rehabilitative, i.e., intended to get the person to a position where he or she can take care of expenses without assistance, durational, or permanent. Alimony can be paid on a determined interval, awarded in a lump sum or be a combination of the two.
Alimony or maintenance payments are a recognition that one spouse may have more resources and income than another to support him or herself going forward. The length of a marriage is very important in determining alimony.
Marriages may be classified as short, moderate, or long-term. These are broken down as follows:
The types of alimony are intended for different purposes:
Temporary Alimony is an award of alimony during the divorce proceeding. This award is automatically terminated upon the entry of the final divorce decree and may be replaced by one of the other types of alimony.
Bridge-the-Gap Alimony is transitional alimony. It is intended to help a spouse go from being married to being single by allocating the funds necessary to pay foreseeable and identifiable bills associated with re-starting a life without a spouse. It is typically used in very short marriages.
Rehabilitative Alimony is used when a spouse will need to pursue different educational programs or specific vocational skill training to obtain employment that will allow for self-sufficiency. When a court grants a party rehabilitative alimony, the order needs to include a specific plan. For instance, a person who enjoys working with horses may decide to pursue a career as a farrier and the plan will include the estimated length of time of the program, associated costs, required time as an apprentice, and the period before the spouse anticipates achieving self-sufficiency. The spouse receiving or paying the alimony may petition for a modification of the order if circumstances change or the receiving spouse deviates significantly from the plan.
Durational Alimony is awarded in the instance of a short or moderate-term marriage. It is available when the other types of alimony do not fit the circumstances of the divorcing couple. It is awarded as a set amount over a pre-determined period, not to exceed the length of the marriage. Therefore, if the couple getting a divorce was married for 7 years, the award of durational alimony cannot exceed 7 years, but is usually less.
Permanent Alimony is usually granted only in long-term marriages, occasionally in moderate term marriages and will only be available for a short-term marriage under extraordinary circumstances. Permanent alimony is available to a spouse who cannot maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage with regard to necessities of life and general needs. This is a very subjective standard as the court will review the couple’s lifestyle during the marriage and determine what is reasonable. A person with extensive staff and luxuries may be awarded enough to reasonably maintain a similar lifestyle after the divorce.