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Florida Legislators Mull Alimony Overhaul

Florida lawmakers are again trying to change the way courts award alimony, the second attempt in three years.

Florida Alimony Law

Florida law currently provides several different types of alimony, also known as spousal support. The type of alimony awarded depends upon the specific need of the party receiving the payments.

Permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is designed to provide lifetime financial support to the recipient. It is usually awarded when the divorce follows a lengthy marriage, or when age, disability or other factors make it unlikely that the recipient spouse would be able to support herself.

Rehabilitative alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to provide temporary financial support so the spouse can receive education or other training in order to gain future financial independence.

Bridge-the-gap alimony. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to provide transitional support to a spouse to help move from married to single life. It is limited to identifiable short-term needs and cannot last more than two years.

Durational alimony. Durational alimony provides financial assistance to one party for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration, or following a long-term marriage where permanent alimony is not necessary.

Unlike child support awards, there is no set formula judges must follow when awarding spousal support, nor is there any requirement that it be given in all cases. The judge has discretion in the amount and type of award to be made, taking into consideration:

  • Length and duration of the marriage;
  • Standard of living enjoyed by the couple during the marriage;
  • Education and earning capacities of each party;
  • Financial situation of each party, including non-marital assets and marital assets awarded during the divorce, and;
  • Other factors that would make an award just and equitable.

As it now stands, couples going into a divorce have little idea whether spousal support will be awarded, or how much the award would be. The legislation being proposed by Rep. Ritch Workman aims to eliminate some of that uncertainty. Although the proposal hasn’t yet been fully revealed, the changes would bring the state’s alimony laws more in line with current child support guidelines. Under those laws, judges consider the income and liabilities of each parent, determine each parent’s net monthly income, and determine the amount of child support owed based on a statutorily set guideline. Judges have discretion to increase an award based on a variety of factors.

The new alimony laws would work in much the same way, with judges taking in to consideration the duration of the marriage and the assets and income of each party before making an award based on a statutory framework. Like the child support guidelines, the judge would have discretion to increase or decrease the award based on the circumstances. This will give couples a better idea of whether they should expect an award of spousal support, and could potentially cut down on lengthy and costly litigation over the issue. The new law would also eliminate permanent alimony.

Boca Raton Alimony Attorneys

If you are contemplating divorce and believe you are entitled to spousal support, contact the Boca Raton alimony attorneys at Schwartz | White. Our attorneys have more than 50 years of combined experience getting our clients a fair and equitable spousal support award. Whether it is rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap or permanent, our clients will closely examine your financial situation and your circumstances to obtain an award that can give you financial security. Contact our office today at 561-391-9943 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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