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Can You Get Permanent Alimony If the Marriage Was Short, but the Relationship Was Long?


Permanent alimony, where one spouse sends the other monthly checks until one of the former spouses dies or the recipient spouse remarries, is a popular subject for clickbait, comments on clickbait, and discussions that have little basis in the law.  Florida law acknowledges six possible types of alimony, one of which is permanent alimony.  The court awards alimony for the shortest duration that would prevent the lower income spouse from being so poor as to need public assistance; when possible, the court divides the marital property in a way that makes periodic alimony payments unnecessary.  Most alimony awards arise from marital settlement agreements set by couples during divorce mediation, which judges simply sign off on by incorporating them into a court order.  If you are going through a divorce and cannot agree with your spouse about the appropriate amount and duration of alimony, contact a Boca Raton alimony lawyer.

Florida Law Does Not Recognize Palimony

Florida’s laws related to alimony and equitable distribution of property are based on the assumption that marital property is any assets that either spouse acquire and any income that either spouse earned from the date on the couple’s marriage certification until the date on the divorce petition.  Some couples marry after they have lived together and treated each other as family for many years.  While you have contributed, financially and through your unpaid labor, to your family since long before you married your spouse, the court only awards you your share of the wealth that you and your spouse amassed while legally married to each other.

In a recent Florida case, two women got divorced after four years of marriage, but they had lived together for 20 years before making their marriage official.  A few years before they got married, the lower income wife left the workforce because of health problems, and because the higher income wife’s income was enough to support the whole family.  The lower income wife became a full-time caregiver to the higher income wife’s mother, who lived with the couple.

When the couple got divorced, the lower income wife argued that she should be entitled to receive permanent alimony, based on a 24-year marriage.  The courts only consider permanent alimony as an option after a marriage that lasted at least 17 years.  If one spouse is unable to work due to health problems, the court may consider permanent alimony after a shorter marriage, but only if the couple were married for at least seven years.  The court refused to award permanent alimony in this case.  The published court decision did not indicate whether the lower income wife argued that the only reason the couple did not marry sooner is because Florida law did not recognize marriages between same sex couples.

Contact Schwartz | White About Alimony Disputes

A South Florida family law attorney can help you get a fair alimony award if you and your spouse lived together for a long time before you got married.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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