How Do Florida Courts Look at Long Term Marriages When Deciding Alimony?


When considering an award of alimony, the court first considers the need and ability to pay. After determining such a need and ability, the court will look to a number of different factors to determine a proper monetary value and duration of said payments. Along with factors such as, standard of living established during the marriage, earning capacities, and financial resources, the court will notably look to the duration of the marriage. Being aware of each type of award and every factor is critical in your alimony award determination, speak with your Orlando Divorce Attorney to expand upon these factors and determine a proper award in your case.

In order to understand the critical nature of these factors, it is important to understand that there are various types of alimony that a court may award an individual in a Florida divorce case. These different classifications include: temporary, durational, bridge the gap, rehabilitative, and permanent. Temporary alimony is also known as pendente lite. This type of alimony is awarded during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. This award terminates on the date of your final divorce decree. Bridge the gap alimony is awarded to aid in the transition from being married to being single and aid in short term, identifiable needs. This award cannot exceed 2 years. Conversely, rehabilitative alimony is awarded to aid a spouse in the redevelopment of necessary skills or to acquire necessary training and education that may lead to self-sufficiency. This alimony award is accompanied by a specific rehabilitative plan and terminates upon the completion of the designated plan. Durational alimony is awarded when permanent alimony is inappropriate and may not exceed in duration beyond the length of the marriage. This type of award is given to provide the party in need with financial assistance “for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis.” (61.08(7)). Finally, permanent alimony is awarded when no other alimony award is appropriate and the party in need is unable to provide for their own needs outside of their marriage. Permanent alimony is in fact permanent in nature and will only terminate upon death or remarriage of the receiving party. Each award is unique in nature and a judge is required to make certain findings of fact before directing such an award to a party. Such findings include the duration of the marriage.

The length of marriage is defined by Florida Statute as “the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage,” (61.08(4)). The duration of the marriage effects an alimony award as it statutorily creates a rebuttable presumption for the type of award that may be given and further effects the lengths of which the court must note specific findings in a case. Statute has created three different lengths of marriage, short term, moderate term and long term marriages.

Short term marriages are those having existed for less than 7 years (61.08(4)). Typically, short term marriages are only eligible for durational, bridge the gap, and rehabilitative alimony. However, permanent alimony may be awarded in a short term marriage upon a finding of exceptional circumstances and such findings must be noted by the judge in their final order. (61.08(8)).

Moderate term marriages are defined as having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17. (61.08(4)).  Similar to short term marriages, durational, bridge the gap and rehabilitative alimony awards are most common. However, permanent alimony may be awarded “following a marriage of moderate duration if such an award is appropriate based upon clear and convincing evidence after consideration of the factors set forth.” (61.08(8)).

Finally, long term marriages are those who have a duration of 17 years or greater (61.08(4)).  With a long term marriage, the award of permanent alimony has the lowest hurdle to overcome. “Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration if such an award is appropriate upon consideration of the factors set forth” (61.08(8)).

It is important to discuss with your Orlando Divorce Attorney your specific financial needs and note the required standard you must overcome in relation to the length of your marriage. Alimony is a critical part of a divorce process and can be difficult to understand. Contact an Orlando Divorce Attorney who will help you identify the factors in your marriage that will reflect the type of alimony you are eligible for.

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