Alimony payments are only useful to the extent the party paying alimony continues to make such payments. Obligations to pay alimony automatically terminate upon the death of either spouse. As a result, people who rely on alimony to support their basic needs naturally have a vested interest in extending their former spouse’s life.
However, no one is immortal. Yet, allowing the death of a spouse to threaten the livelihood of their former spouse does not seem fair. As a result, courts can order a party paying alimony to provide security for payments after they pass away.
Florida Legal Authority for Alimony Security
Under Florida Statutes § 61.08(3), courts may order a party paying alimony to secure the award “to the extent necessary to protect the award.” Courts have looked at special circumstances and other factors demonstrating a need for security when ordering alimony security.
Some of the factors that favor securing alimony include:
- The lack of financial resources of the party receiving support
- The advanced age, poor health, or low employment skills of the party receiving support
- The abundance of employment income and unencumbered assets of the party paying support
- The lack of support responsibilities of the party paying support (i.e., not having to pay for their spouse’s medical expenses)
- The ability to obtain life insurance considering the health and age of the party paying support
Sources of Alimony Security
Florida statutory law allows courts to order a spouse paying spousal support to buy or maintain a life insurance policy for the purposes of securing spousal support. Otherwise, the court may order security for spousal support using suitable assets.
For example, courts may secure alimony by attaching a lien on some of the assets of the party paying spousal support, as long as the lien is tailored to the spousal support obligation. Furthermore, a court can order the payor spouse to place assets in a trust for the benefit of the party receiving alimony. The court would then order the trustee to make periodic payments to the beneficiary after the death of the payor spouse.
Courts may also order the payor spouse to acquire an annuity from a commercial source for the benefit of the payee spouse. An annuity is an agreement for one party to make periodic payments to a person for life or some other specified term.
Rules Prohibiting Post-Mortem Alimony
Under Florida law, an alimony obligation may not extend beyond the death of either spouse. Furthermore, under federal tax law, alimony orders that obligate the payor spouse’s estate to continue payments after their death do not qualify for alimony tax treatment.
However, when alimony is secured under a life insurance policy, annuity, or trust, the obligation to pay does not rest on the payor spouse. Rather the insurance company, trustee, or other entity funding the annuity carries the obligation to pay. As a result, courts have held that an order to secure alimony with those methods do not violate state and federal rules against post-mortem alimony.
Contact The Virga Law Firm, P.C. Today
If you are looking for legal representation and advice about a family law issue such as securing alimony payments, you should call an experienced member of the legal team at The Virga Law Firm, P.C. We are committed to advocating for the rights and interests of you and your family.For more information, call us at (800) 822-5170 or contact us online today.