South Florida Hospital News
Thursday May 24, 2018
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May 2018 - Volume 14 - Issue 11

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Alimony: What Is It And How Long Do I Have To Pay It?

Alimony is financial support given from one spouse to another. Financial support could be money paid from one spouse to the other or in-kind payments made by one spouse to another, such as direct payment of the mortgage each month. There are several types of alimony in Florida: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, permanent periodic, and lump sum. How do you know what type of alimony is right for your family? Temporary alimony is the support paid while the divorce case is pending. In Florida, families are expected to maintain the status quo until a final resolution has been reached or a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is entered. Typically, in marriages of less than 7 years, the presumption is against permanent alimony absent extenuating circumstances, and the Court can award up to 2 years of alimony to be paid, called bridge-the gap alimony, depending on the facts and circumstances. In marriages of between 7 and 17 years, the Court can award rehabilitative alimony, which is alimony for the period of time it takes for the recipient spouse to train into a profession that will allow them to be self-supporting, or durational alimony, which can be as many years as the length of the marriage. For marriages over 17 years, the presumption is for permanent periodic alimony, unless facts and circumstances determine otherwise. Lump sum alimony is awarded under certain special circumstances such as when one spouse refuses to help support the other and the Court believes that spouse will continue to shirk their financial obligations to the other spouse. 

Determining the amount of alimony paid by one spouse to the other requires an evaluation of a combination of factors enumerated in the alimony statute. First, however, a determination of whether one spouse has a need and the other spouse has an ability to pay must be made. If neither spouse requires alimony to support their post-divorce household, alimony will not be awarded to either spouse. One spouse may demonstrate a need based upon living expenses and his/her monthly income, but if the other spouse does not have an ability to pay alimony, alimony cannot be awarded. If one spouse demonstrates a need for alimony, and the other spouse can pay some or all of that need, then alimony will be awarded in the amount either the receiving spouse needs or in the amount the paying spouse can afford to pay.
 
In order to calculate alimony, income for each spouse must be determined. If a spouse refuses to become employed, or willfully reduces his or her income during the divorce process to avoid alimony obligations, the Courts can and will impute income to that spouse. Courts can also consider other factors such as the ages of any minor children, whether one spouse has been out of the work force for a substantial period of time, whether one spouse needs to remain at home to care for disabled or sick children, and other factors to do justice and equity between the spouses when determining whether alimony should be awarded and in what amount.

If you have questions about alimony, and want to discuss those questions with an attorney, call Angela R. Neave, Esquire at (954) 981-2200 for a free consultation.

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