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If Not Permanent Alimony, Then What?


In recent years, “gray divorce,” in which both spouses are above the age of 50, account for an increasing share of divorce cases.  This is partly because, in this generation, young people who feel ambivalent toward marriage no longer feel the pressure to marry someone that they consider an okay but not great match.  It is also because some couples realize, once their children have grown up, that they have nothing in common with their spouses and life is too short to stay in an unhappy marriage.  Late in life divorce brings its own set of complications; one of them is that the parties only have a limited amount of time left in the workforce, so each party’s share of the marital property should be enough to sustain him or her in retirement.  This is harder than it sounds, especially when one or both parties have already been out of the workforce for a long time.  It used to be common for single-income couples who divorced after a long marriage to agree to permanent alimony, but a new Florida law has abolished that possibility.  A Boca Raton alimony lawyer can help you if you would be a prime candidate for permanent alimony anywhere except Florida.

Why Not Permanent Alimony?

Permanent alimony used to be the norm, but as women’s participation in the workforce increased, it became feasible for most couples to disentangle their finances in divorce and for each former spouse to support himself or herself through employment income.  In recent decades, the rule was that permanent alimony was only an option if the couple had been married for at least 17 years and if the recipient spouse would live in poverty without it.  Recipients of permanent alimony must still reenter the workforce if they are healthy enough to work; the amount of permanent alimony is calculated as the recipient’s expenses minus the recipient’s income from other sources.

A heated debate about permanent alimony has taken place in recent years in the media and in Florida’s courtrooms and legislature.  Critics of permanent alimony argue that it is unfair to make people pay alimony for longer than they were married; a couple that married at 25 and divorced at 50 could end up with 35 years of alimony checks if the first of them died at age 85.  Meanwhile, permanent alimony recipients, many of whom are in poor health, or else they would be working full-time, argue that their financial situation is already vulnerable, and that without permanent alimony, they would be in desperate circumstances.

Making the Most of Limited Resources

If you can’t get permanent alimony, it is even more important to get your fair share of marital assets, so that you can use them to generate income.  You might also be able to get a QDRO, a court order that entitles you to a share of your former spouse’s retirement income.

Contact Schwartz | White About Living Without Permanent Alimony

A South Florida family law attorney can help you get a fair share of the marital property, even if you cannot get permanent alimony.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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