Alimony/Maintenance/Spousal Support in a Florida Divorce

Alimony in Florida
Florida Bar Online Publications-Including Alimony
Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets in Florida

Alimony is payment made by one party to the other after divorce, either by court order or by mutual agreement.   The purpose of the alimony may be either to meet a financial need of one of the spouses, or to help achieve a fair division of assets.  Alimony may be rehabilitative, permanent or lump sum in nature.

A new Florida law was passed in 1988 defining what are and are not the assets of a marriage.  This provides guidelines as to distribution of assets and other issues related to income and property in the marriage as well as alimony in general.  There are three types of alimony in Florida; rehabilitative, permanent or lump sum. 

Rehabilitative-as the name implies-is intended to help support a spouse to allow him/her to renew old skills or gain new skills leading to self-support.  It is intended to be a short-term measure which enables a spouse to get back on his or her feet. Alimony is awarded to enable the other spouse to go back to school or to acquire needed skills that would enable the spouse to be competitive in the job market. Usually a spouse who has chosen the role of becoming a homemaker and raising children has not been able to develop the skills necessary for productive and gainful employment. This ends automatically after a fixed period unless the court is asked to extend it. 

Permanent alimony continues indefinitely until remarriage or death of the spouse.  It is usually awarded when one of the parties is unable to work due to age physical or mental illness. The two primary elements considered are needs of the receiving spouse and ability of the paying spouse to provide the necessary funds.  The third type of alimony, lump sum payment, involves a set payment amount.  This type of alimony survives the death of both parties and cannot be changed.  It may involve money, property or a combination.  It may be payable all at once or in payments over a period of time.

Once the parties file for a mutual-consent no-fault divorce, they must wait at least 90 days and often significantly longer before the final Decree in Divorce is granted. During this period, an agreement on support payments may be appropriate if the parties are separated.

Alimony is deductible from the gross income of the payor spouse and is included in the gross income of the recipient spouse. Several rules govern how alimony provisions of separation agreements and court orders must be written in order for it to receive this tax treatment.

If the court determines that a spouse is eligible for alimony, the following factors are then considered in the award:

(1)    the financial resources of the spouse seeking alimony, including both separate and community property and liabilities;
(2)    the spouse's ability to meet his or her needs independently;
(3)    the education and employment skills of the spouses;
(4)    the time necessary for the supported spouse to acquire sufficient training or education to enable him or her to find employment;
(5)    the availability and feasibility of that training;
(6)    the duration of the marriage;
(7)    the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking alimony;
(8)    the ability of the supporting spouse to meet their own needs and make any child support payments;
(9)    excessive or abnormal expenditures, concealment or destruction of any property by either spouse;
(10)    the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits, and any separate property;
(11)    the contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse;
(12)    the contribution of either spouse as homemaker;
(13)    any marital misconduct of the spouse seeking alimony;
(14)  whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs;
(15)    the efforts of the spouse seeking alimony to obtain self-support skills while the divorce is pending or during any separation; and
(16)    property brought to the marriage by either spouse.
(17)  any tax ramifications;
 

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