When a marriage has come to an end and you are entering the divorce process, one of the largest concerns of a spouse is their ability to financially support themselves independent of their spouse. Therefore, a common question is an individual’s eligibility for alimony. To be eligible for permanent alimony you and your spouse must meet certain qualifications as prescribed by Florida Statute. Discuss your specific circumstances and needs with your divorce attorney to determine your eligibility for permanent alimony.
When considering an award of alimony, the first step is to clearly present the financial need of a party and the financial ability to pay by the respective party. These payments are purposes for assisting the lesser spouse in maintaining their financial security and support outside of their marital relationship. It is essentially a method to equalize the parties moving forward. Generally, the financial affidavits presented to the court are sufficient evidence of the financial needs and abilities of the parties. After you present your financial needs, and your partner’s ability to support these requirements the court will then need to assess the proper type of alimony and amount.
Generally, the first step is to assess the classification of the marriage. In Florida, there are three classes of marriage providing a rebuttable presumption of the type of alimony awarded. A short term marriage is one that is less than 7 years. A moderate term marriage is more than 7 years but less than 17. A long term marriage is one with a duration of 17 or more years. There is a rebuttable presumption that a permanent alimony award will not be given in short or moderate term marriages. However, this presumption may be overcome in a moderate term marriage by clear and convincing evidence, or in a short term marriage by a showing of the existence of exceptional circumstances to support such an award.
After the classification, the court will turn to the purpose of the permanent alimony award and weigh each factor. Permanent alimony was originally established to support a spouse who is unable to financially support their own needs, or cost of living that was maintained during the course of their marriage and will likely never be able to achieve this self sufficiency throughout the course of their life. Therefore, the court will consider the standard of living established by the couple during their marriage, the length of the marriage to determine if a rebuttable presumption exists, the ages of the parties, the health status of each party, the financial resources available to each spouse, the contributions to the marriage, and the education, skills, employability, and potential of the spouses. Finally, the court must also make a factual finding that no other form of alimony is reasonable under the specific circumstances. Therefore, the award of permanent alimony is fact specific and unique to each individual. The qualities must be properly assessed by you and your attorney.
The loss of a spouse’s financial support due to a divorce can cause significant concern for an individual. Therefore, fully understanding the eligibility and terms of an alimony award are crucial for the financial wellbeing of a spouse and proper divorce settlement. Contact a lawyer today to discuss your specific case and eligibility for alimony.
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