In determining whether to award or deny alimony to a spouse, the court considers the following factors: (1) the standard of living established during the marriage; (2) the duration of the marriage; (3) the age, physical, and emotional condition of each party; (4) the financial resources of each party; (5) the time necessary for a party to become self-sufficient; (6) each party’s contribution to the marriage, including financial support and services; and (7) all sources of income available to either party.
There are five types of alimony: permanent periodic, rehabilitative, bridge the gap, lump sum and temporary.
Temporary alimony is paid to a party during the divorce action.
Permanent Periodic alimony is typically paid in monthly payments that continue until the recipient dies, the payor dies, the recipient remarries, or possibly cohabitates with another individual in a supportive relationship, as defined by Florida law. There are three requirements for permanent periodic alimony: (1) long term marriage (the Court’s definition of a long term marriage can vary from case to case; however, it is usually at least fifteen years); (2) income disparity between the parties; and (3) the that recipient’s income from all sources does not meet the need established during the marriage. Again, each case differs due to the parties’ specific incomes and circumstances. You should not base your expectations regarding alimony on your friends’ or family members’ divorce cases.
Rehabilitative alimony is used to provide the recipient with money to eventually become self sufficient. To receive rehabilitative alimony the spouse seeking the alimony must establish a rehabilitative plan. A rehabilitative plan must be specific and should address the object of the rehabilitation (such as schooling or job training), the cost of the plan, and the projected period necessary to establish the recipient’s self sufficiency.
Bridge the Gap alimony is typically used for short term marriages and by definition is awarded for a short period of time. The purpose is to help the recipient meet short term financial difficulties associated with the transition from married to single life.
Lump Sum alimony is a “lump sum” amount not subject to modification. Lump sum alimony is awarded in three ways: (1) an award of a property interest; (2) a monetary support payment; or (3) awarded to insure an equitable distribution of marital property. There are two requirements for lump sum alimony: (1) the award must be identified as either necessary for support or to equalize the party’s status; or (2) unusual circumstances which would require a non modifiable award of support. Lump sum alimony frequently arises as a tool to award the marital home to one spouse. It can be paid in monthly installments or all at one time.
Modification of Alimony:
The Court has the ability to modify up or down the amount of financial support a spouse receives. Under Florida law, if the finances of either party or their circumstances change, either spouse may request a modification of the alimony payment. Reduced or increased income of a payor spouse is not enough on its own for modification of alimony.
In order to request a modification of alimony, the spouse seeking the modification must file a petition with the court and provide the other spouse the opportunity to be heard. The party seeking the modification must show the court that there has been (1) a substantial change in the circumstances; (2) that the change was not contemplated by the parties at the time of the final judgment of dissolution; and (3) the change is sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature.
Further, alimony may be modified or terminated if the spouse required to pay support can prove the other spouse is involved in a “supportive relationship” (a relationship in which his or her expenses are being paid by another individual). There are several factors considered by the Court in this situation and you should seek the advice of an attorney experienced in this issue if you believe your former spouse is involved in such a relationship.