Couples may not be on equal financial footing when divorce divides the family into two separate households. A spouse is commonly dependent on the other, which makes for an unequal situation.
Alimony or spousal support balances the scales to ensure that both parties retain the same standard of living. Alimony is a court-ordered payment given by one spouse to the other for a specific time per the divorce agreement.
Under Florida law, there are four different types of alimony. The court also considers a couple’s circumstances in determining which arrangement to award them. There is an ongoing debate about a new bill revising current alimony laws, which can potentially make things more complex. All these are significant issues if you are contemplating or in the middle of a divorce.
Types of alimony
Florida courts may order either a lump sum or periodic payments for the following types of alimony:
- Rehabilitative: As the most common kind of support, this provides the time and resources for a spouse to work on becoming self-sufficient again through education, skills training and other career advancement opportunities. The spouse in need must also show their plan with specific duration, cost and how to meet their goals.
- Bridge-the-gap: This is the kind of assistance that addresses a spouse’s short-term needs for adjusting from being married to a single life. This support only lasts two years, and terminates if the spouse in need remarries or the paying spouse dies.
- Durational: This is the financial maintenance intended for short- or moderate-term marriages, or if a long-term marriage does not need permanent economic support. The support duration must also not exceed the length of the marriage.
- Permanent: This financial support is for exceptional circumstances that demonstrate the inability of a spouse to become self-sufficient in the future – a disability or taking care of their child with special needs.
The court looks at relevant factors to determine the kind of alimony to award a couple. These considerations include the ages of both spouses, marriage duration, the established standard of living during the marriage, both spouses’ physical and emotional conditions, and both parties’ financial resources.
This year, Florida’s Alimony Reform Bill, known as SB 1416, aims to revise the modification and termination of alimony payment terms. Supporters claim that this bill prevents long-term dependency on spousal support. On the other hand, critics argue that these revisions could pose more difficulties for the lower-earning spouse.
Support during the transition
As the state’s alimony laws continue to evolve, both parties need any support that they can get during this transition in their relationship. It will help for a legal team to clarify ambiguities so that no provision becomes overlooked while protecting the family’s best interests.