Alimony, also referred to a spousal support, can greatly impact your financial future, whether you are the payor, or the recipient. Alimony is a payment between spouses and is governed by Florida Statutes § 61.08. Generally, alimony is only awarded when there is a significant disparity between the spouses’ incomes. There are five types of alimony pursuant to Florida law and many factors that the Court must consider.
Durational alimony is a monthly payment to the spouse for a set period of time. Durational alimony is typically appropriate following a marriage of short or moderate duration which is up to 17 years. The statute provides that durational alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage. Although the amount may be modifiable, the length of the alimony is not modifiable except under extraordinary circumstances. Like most other forms of alimony, it automatically terminates if the receiving spouse remarries. It can also be subject to termination and/or modification if the recipient spouse begins cohabitating with someone as defined in the statute.
Permanent alimony is a monthly payment to the spouse which continues indefinitely. Although it is referred to as “permanent”, it is not necessarily so. Permanent alimony is typically only appropriate following a long-term marriage which is defined as over 17 years. Even when there is a long-term marriage, there are many other factors that the Court must consider when deciding if permanent alimony is appropriate. The amount of permanent alimony is modifiable if either of the parties experiences a significant and material change in circumstances. In addition, permanent alimony automatically terminates if the recipient spouse remarries. It can also be subject to termination and/or modification if the recipient spouse begins cohabitating with someone as defined in the statute.
Bridge-the-Gap alimony is a monthly payment to the spouse which cannot exceed two years. It is meant to assist one party in making the transition from married life to single life. It provides short-term financial assistance to the spouse with significantly less income in transitioning after a divorce to being single. This type of alimony is nonmodifiable in amount or duration, however it may be terminated under certain circumstances.
Rehabilitative alimony is a monthly payment to the spouse for a specified period of time and is based on a specific plan of rehabilitation. The purpose of this type of alimony is to allow a spouse to obtain additional training, education or skills in order to increase that spouse’s earning ability. The end goal is for the spouse to become self-supporting without the need of additional alimony. The recipient spouse is required to follow the plan of rehabilitation. For example, if the rehabilitation plan is to obtain additional education, and the recipient spouse does not pursue the education, the rehabilitative alimony can be terminated.
As the name implies, temporary alimony is a monthly payment to the spouse during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. Many times, when spouses initially separate, there are significant financial challenges. Temporary alimony is somewhat like a Band-Aid to allow the spouse to financially survive until the Court has the opportunity to determine if other forms of alimony, or no alimony at all, is appropriate after a full trial and consideration of all of the statutory factors. Temporary alimony is always modifiable by the Court during the pendency of the divorce case. In addition, at the final trial, the Court is not bound to continue the amount of any temporary alimony award.
Lump Sum Alimony
Lump Sum Alimony is a larger, typically one-time payment to the spouse. The purpose is to provide a more significant amount of money to a spouse to secure new living arrangements, pay off debt, or for other situations in which a larger amount is needed. Since it is paid all at once, there is no modification of lump sum alimony. In addition, once it is paid, remarriage does not affect the award.