Spousal support in Florida, also known as alimony, is defined as a payment by one party of a divorce to the other one after the dissolution of the marriage. Either party can ask for spousal support. Florida law requires the court to make a finding that the party seeking alimony has a need for support, and that the other party has the ability to pay it.
Types of Alimony Available in Florida
There are five different types of spousal support in Florida depending on the needs of the receiving party:
- Temporary: This provides support for one party while the divorce proceedings are in progress and ends at the conclusion of the divorce.
- Bridge-the-gap: This is available when one spouse needs support while making the transition from married to single. It lasts for a maximum of two years.
- Rehabilitative: This is similar to bridge-the-gap support but requires the receiving party to present a plan to the court for becoming self-supporting. The court may set a limit to the amount of time a party can receive this but can modify the time if there is a substantial change in circumstances.
- Durational: This is for when a spouse needs support for a time but does not qualify for other types of spousal support. This cannot last longer than the length of the marriage. For example, if the marriage lasted only five years, durational alimony cannot last longer than five years.
- Permanent alimony: This type of alimony is typically reserved for long term marriages. It is rare in moderate or short term marriages unless a party can show there are exceptional circumstances that require permanent alimony. If the court orders permanent alimony, it must make a written finding that this is necessary, and no other type of alimony can meet the needs of the party receiving the award. Permanent alimony ends when one party dies or the receiving party remarries.
An award of alimony cannot leave the payor with less money than is being paid to the receiving party unless the court makes a written finding of exceptional circumstances justifying such an order.
Factors the Court Considers in Awarding Spousal Support
In deciding to order spousal support in Florida, the relevant statute lists several factors the court considers when deciding whether to award alimony and which type of support to order.
- The length of the marriage.
- The age of each party and the physical and mental health of each one.
- All available financial resources of each party.
- Each party’s earning capacity, which includes education, vocational skills, and employability.
- Contributions each party made to the marriage. This includes services that one party contributed who was dedicated to child-rearing, homemaking, and career-building of the other party.
- Responsibilities each party will have for caring for minor children.
- The standard of living the spouses enjoyed during their marriage.
- Tax consequences for each party.
The statute states that the court can consider any other factor that is necessary for it to “do justice and equity between the parties.”