What is alimony?
Alimony is a court ordered allowance that one spouse pays to the other spouse for maintenance and support while they are separated, in the process of going through a divorce, or after they have been divorced. Alimony is based on one spouse’s “need” and the other spouse’s “ability to pay”. The Florida Statutes specifically mandate that all forms of alimony (except Rehabilitative) shall terminate upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving the alimony.
What is the legal process for seeking alimony?
Alimony is most often sought in the process of divorce. However, the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must state a request that some or all forms of alimony be awarded. The Petition may also request temporary alimony while the divorce is pending, to which a person may be entitled.
Alimony can also be sought in a separate action under Section 61.09 of the Florida Statutes, by filing a petition claiming that your spouse has the ability to contribute to your maintenance and support, but has failed to do so. This would occur in a situation in which the parties no longer live with one another, but have not yet filed for divorce.
Types of Alimony in Florida
In Florida, there are four basic forms of alimony to which a person may be entitled, and the court has the discretion to award any one (or more) forms of alimony.
Durational alimony is awarded when permanent periodic alimony is not appropriate. The purpose of this type of alimony is to provide economic assistance to a spouse 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.
The purpose of permanent periodic alimony is to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage, and is awarded to a spouse who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following dissolution of marriage. There is a presumption in favor of permanent periodic alimony in a marriage of long-term duration, and therefore permanent periodic alimony is most appropriate in a long-term marriage.
Bridge-the-gap alimony may be ordered to assist a party in making the transition from being married to being single. This form of alimony is designed to assist a person with short term needs, and an award of this type of alimony may not exceed two years.
Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in becoming self-supportive by either redeveloping previous skills or credentials or by acquiring education, training or work experience. In order for a court to award rehabilitative alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan.
Who can seek Alimony in Florida?
The concept of alimony is based on the marriage between two parties, and as such the parties must be married for either spouse to seek alimony. If the parties are married and there is a differential in earning power between the parties, then the party earning less may be entitled to alimony. Alimony is based on one spouse’s “need” and the other spouse’s “ability to pay”. Therefore, if you have the need for a particular amount of alimony, and your spouse has the ability to pay that amount, then you may be awarded alimony in your dissolution of marriage. The type of alimony (if any) that is awarded in the dissolution of marriage process also depends upon the length of the marriage. With respect to an award of alimony, there are three categories of marriages: short-term, moderate-term, and long-term.
When does alimony end?
All forms of alimony end by the death of either party, remarriage of the party receiving the alimony. Durational, rehabilitative, and permanent periodic alimony are subject to modification, and as such can end if there is a substantial change in either the need of the party receiving alimony or the ability of the paying party to pay, or through sufficient proof that the party receiving the alimony has a “supportive relationship” with someone else. Bridge-the-gap alimony cannot be modified.