As defined in Florida Statutes, alimony is the payment of financial support from one spouse to the other. These payments are enforced by a Florida court during a divorce or post-divorce modification hearing. Alimony can be awarded as a lump sum, in periodic payments, or a combination of the two.
Alimony is not simply handed out upon request. The court must first determine if either spouse actually needs this maintenance, and that the other spouse is able to pay. In addition, the court weighs more than a dozen factors to determine a fair amount of payment.
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Four Different Types of Alimony
Alimony payments are derived from four distinct variations: bridge-the-gap, durational, rehabilitative, and permanent. Each type of alimony serves a specific purpose, and courts may award alimony payments that combine one or more types. For example, a court may decide that for a particular spouse, durational/rehabilitative alimony paid on a periodic basis is the most fair and reasonable arrangement.
This form of alimony serves to “bridge the gap” of a spouse’s transition from being married to being single. This includes short-term needs that the court is able to identify and determine as legitimate and necessary. Bridge-the-gap alimony cannot be awarded for any period longer than two years. Unless the spouse receiving alimony remarries, or one of the spouses passes away, the amount and duration of the payments cannot be altered.
In many situations, long-term alimony is neither necessary, nor reasonable. This is especially true for short marriages, and marriages of any length where there is no need for ongoing financial support. When short-term spousal support is the most fair and effective solution, durational alimony may be established. The length of time for durational support cannot be altered without extenuating circumstances—however, if one or both spouses undergo significant life changes, the amount of the payments may be altered to reflect this.
When the needs of a spouse that were established during a marriage are not matched by their financial ability to fulfill these needs, permanent alimony may be awarded for long-term support. To approve permanent alimony, the court must be convinced, with clear evidence, that there exists a need for permanent spousal support. The court must also determine that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable in the spouses’ situation.
When a spouse may need financial support to help them get into a position to support themselves, rehabilitative alimony may be awarded. Rehabilitative support is used to facilitate education, training, and work experience needed to develop new skills, or to redevelop old skills. A plan for rehabilitation must be established as part of this financial maintenance, and the alimony award is subject to change upon specific changes of circumstances outlined in Florida law.
If you’re struggling with alimony issues of your own, let a skilled alimony lawyer help you find a resolution. Call The Virga Law Firm, P.A. in Panama City!