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Florida Allows for Permanent Alimony, but Courts Only Award It to People Who Really Need It


Seeing a divorce decree with your name on it brings about mixed feelings.  On the one hand, you feel relieved to be out of an unhappy marriage and free to find a happy relationship with someone else.  On the other hand, it is devastating to find out that, after the court has divided your property, you have only a fraction of the assets you worked all your life to acquire.  Being ordered to pay alimony only adds insult to injury, but before you go online and rant that the court has enabled your ex to ruin your finances forever, remember that most awards of alimony are temporary.  Even so-called permanent alimony ends if the recipient spouse remarries.  Florida law allows courts to award monthly alimony payments with no end date, but they reserve this type of alimony award to situations where the recipient spouse has no other means of financial support.  If you have questions about how much alimony you or your spouse might have to pay if you divorce after a long marriage, contact a Boca Raton alimony lawyer.

Permanent Alimony in Florida

Florida law allows family courts to award any of six types of alimony or no alimony at all.  In previous generations, when it was rare for women to hold highly paid jobs, permanent alimony was the norm.  Today, it is much less common.  In order for a court to award permanent alimony, some or all of the following conditions must be present:

  • The couple were married at least 17 years
  • The recipient spouse is at or near retirement age and was out of the workforce for many years during the marriage
  • The recipient spouse is not healthy enough to work

Family courts in Florida treat permanent alimony as a last resort.  If the court can see another way for the financially disadvantaged spouse to come out of the marriage with their fair share of financial support, then it will choose that option.  For example, it may award a marital home with a paid-off mortgage to a wife who stayed home to raise the children during the marriage and has limited earning potential.  It might reason that, even though her earnings will be modest if she reenters the workforce after such a long absence, her expenses will be low because she does not have to pay rent or pay for a mortgage, and she can even rent out rooms in the house.  An example of the courts’ reluctance to award permanent alimony is evident in the ruling on Hua v. Tsung, in which a Florida woman in her forties requested permanent alimony, but the court instead ordered rehabilitative alimony in the amount she would need to graduate from nursing school and reasoned that her earnings would be sufficient if she worked as a nurse.

Let Us Help You Today

A Boca Raton alimony attorney can advise you on reaching an alimony agreement that is fair to both parties and can help you modify an unfair alimony agreement.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your alimony case.


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