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How the Length of Your Marriage May Affect the Outcome of Your Florida Divorce

Divorce is never easy, and whether you have been married for two years or 20 years, the process is emotionally trying, draining, and difficult. However, whereas the couple that has only been married for two years can likely quickly reestablish independent lives, the couple that has been married for 20 years is going to have a much more difficult time of it. After all, in 20 years, a couple has likely raised a family, built a home together, supported each other in each other’s careers, and been there for one another through life’s ups and downs. Because of this, the courts are not going to treat the dissolution of a short-term marriage the same as the dissolution of a long-term marriage. Depending on the length of your marriage, the Florida courts will award support and divide property in a manner that they feel is adequate and fair.

How the Length of Your Marriage May Affect Alimony

Under Florida Statute 61.08, the Florida courts only award alimony if they find that one party has a need for alimony, and the other party has the ability to pay alimony. In determining the length and amount of alimony support, the courts consider a number of important factors, but one of the first factors they consider is the duration of the marriage. For purposes of determining alimony, the Florida courts deem any marriage that lasted seven years or less to be a short-term marriage, a marriage that was anywhere from seven to 17 years in length to be a moderate-term marriage, and any marriage that lasted 17 or more years to be a long-term marriage. Depending on what category your marriage falls into, the higher earning spouse of your marriage may be liable to pay one of the following four types of alimony:

  1. Bridge-the-gap alimony: This type of award is typically meant to help the lesser earning spouse of a short-term marriage transition from being married to being single.
  2. Rehabilitative alimony: This type of support is meant to help the lesser earning spouse of a moderate- to long-term marriage gain the skills, education, and training he or she needs to establish a good, sustainable career.
  3. Durational alimony: Durational alimony is provided for a set period of time following a short- or moderate-term marriage.
  4. Permanent alimony: While permanent alimony may be available to the lesser earning spouse of a short- or moderate-term marriage in extenuating circumstances, more often than not, it is awarded to the lesser earning spouse or homemaker of a long-term marriage. It is meant to provide support to an individual who no longer has the capacity to support him or herself, and who is not likely to be able to find a job that will sustain the lifestyle he or she had become accustomed to.

How the Length of Your Marriage May Affect Property Division

Under Florida Statute 61.075, the Florida courts will aim to distribute marital property in a way that is equal and fair, unless there is a justification for uneven distribution. One of the factors that a judge may consider for allowing unequal distribution is the duration of the marriage. While a judge would typically try to divide marital property 50/50 in a divorce, when a couple has been married for 17 years or more, each spouse’s contribution to the marriage is a little more clear, thereby making the judge’s job easier.

For instance, in most states a judge may try to divide assets so that each spouse’s halves are of equal value, but in Florida, a judge may grant the wife the $300,000 home because she was the one that took care of it, and the husband the half-a-million dollar business he was the one who built it. While the values are not equal, the judge may see the distribution as fair because each individual walks away from the marriage with what each contributed.

Consult a Boca Raton Divorce Attorney

At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our Boca Raton divorce lawyers are here to help clients transition from being married to being single as seamlessly as possible. We understand that doing so may be difficult for individuals coming out of a long-term marriage. Our family law attorneys aim to do everything we can to ensure that the outcome of your divorce is one that is beneficial and fair to both you and your former spouse, and that it enables each of you to move on in comfort and peace.

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