Existing Florida Alimony Law
Alimony law in Florida is poised to undergo alterations soon. But in order to understand when and how Florida alimony will change, it is necessary to understand how Florida alimony currently works. Existing Florida alimony laws provide for five different types of alimony: temporary (while the divorce is still pending), bridge-the-gap alimony (short-term provisions after the divorce is finalized), rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, and permanent alimony. But what factors determine what type of alimony will be awarded, and for how long the alimony obligation will last? In the state of Florida, the courts consider several things:
Financial resources of both parties
Obviously, the financial resources of the party who would be required to pay and those of the party seeking financial assistance is relevant when courts are attempting to determine whether and how much alimony should be awarded. Judges will in particular look for an imbalance showing, for example, that one spouse has a limited earning potential because he or she has halted a career to care for shared children, or that one spouse makes substantially more income than is necessary to maintain his or her quality of life.
Contributions to the marriage
Considering the same types of situations mentioned above, courts will also look at contributions to the marriage. Judges will consider elements like whether one spouse or the other has taken on more of his or her share of homemaking or childcare, whether one spouse has paid for the other’s education, and whether one spouse has assisted the other in building a career. The goal is to respect each individual’s contributions to the marriage while allowing both parties to benefit from those contributions.
Particularly for longer marriages or for marriages between older couples, courts will take into account the spouses’ ages, as well as physical, mental, and emotional conditions. These issues can strongly influence earning capacity, one of the baseline elements judges are trying to evaluate when deciding when and how alimony should be awarded. Spouses’ conditions also can provide evidence of future financial need, or of past care between the two parties that was necessary and therefore should be continued.
Childcare and custody
Finally, courts considering awarding alimony will give thought to which spouse will be taking primary custody of children. As Florida moves towards a strong preference for fifty-fifty timesharing parenting plans, it is possible that courts will evaluate these factors differently. For now, however, courts will still consider childcare obligations in making alimony decisions, and may award alimony accordingly to also try to provide the same standard of living for children after the divorce of their parents.
It is difficult to navigate legal obligations that arise during and after divorce, like alimony, especially when legislative change is beginning to appear on the horizon. At Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, qualified family lawyers stay abreast of the newest developments to advocate for you. If you are undergoing a divorce or separation, or you believe that alimony may become an important part of your family law dispute, call 561-391-9943 today for a consultation.