Alimony Payments in Florida Divorce

Elrod & Elrod Has Been Assisting Divorcing Couples with Alimony Awards Since 1966

If you are considering Florida divorce, you are likely concerned about whether you are entitled to alimony, or whether you will be required to pay alimony.

How Judges Determine Alimony in a Florida Divorce

Judges do not usually apply a strict formula to determine alimony, but rather make decisions based on an individual situation following guidelines set by Florida statute.

Florida Statute §61.08 allows a Florida judge to award alimony in certain circumstances. Whether alimony will or will not be awarded generally depends on the length of the marriage and the relative income of each spouse. The spouse who earns more money may be required to pay alimony to pay for the needs of the other spouse.

A judge will consider the following factors when determining alimony payments:

  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age and physical and emotional condition of each spouse
  • Financial resources of each spouse, including marital and non-marital marital assets and liabilities distributed to each party
  • If applicable, the time necessary for either spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to find appropriate employment
  • The contribution of each party to the marriage, such as homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party
  • All sources of income to either party
  • Any other factor to do equity and justice between the parties.

Alimony is not intended to punish one spouse or the other but is a recognition that one spouse may have more skills or resources than the other. Alimony payments will level the playing field for a period of time until the other spouse can support him or herself.

A Florida Judge Will Consider Length of Marriage in Making an Alimony Award

Length of marriage is often the most critical factor in determining alimony.

  • short-term marriage is defined as a marriage of less than seven years
  • moderate term marriage is a marriage of between seven and seventeen years
  • long-term marriage is one which is longer than seventeen years in length.

Alimony payments generally will not last longer than the duration of the marriage

Florida also recognizes different types of alimony.

Rehabilitative alimony is of short duration and is designed to allow the recipient to obtain some education or training for a limited period of time.

Bridge-the-gap alimony is also of short duration and is designed to assist the other spouse to get back on his or her feet and live independently.

Durational alimony is for a set period of time after a marriage of short or moderate duration.

Permanent alimony is typically awarded after a long-term marriage and continues until the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient.

When making a decision on alimony, the court can also consider:

  • adultery by either party
  • the standard of living established during the marriage
  • the age and physical and emotional condition of either party, the financial resources of either party
  • the time spent by either party in homemaking, child care and building the career of the other spouse
  • the earning potential of both parties and
  • other factors needed to create a more fair situation.

Types of Alimony Awards in Florida

Alimony can be awarded as a lump sum, as monthly payments, or a combination of the two. Except for rehabilitative alimony, alimony payments end when the spouse receiving alimony re-marries, or when one of the spouses dies.

Alimony payments are often withheld from a paycheck but can also be paid directly to Support Enforcement. Failure to pay alimony can result in a suspension of driving privileges, although limited work privileges are often allowed.

Modifications to a Florida Alimony Award

The court can also modify alimony payments if one spouse or the other can demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances. To be successful, the change in circumstances must be one that was not anticipated at the time of the original award, and one that is likely to continue.

In deciding to modify alimony payments, the court will consider:

  • A substantial raise or an involuntary decrease in pay
  • A change in benefits (i.e., a spouse who starts a job with health benefits where that spouse did not have health benefits before)
  • A serious long-term illness
  • Remarriage of the payee spouse
  • Voluntary changes of circumstance that are sound and well-reasoned decisions
  • A spouse who voluntarily and unreasonably quits his or her job or is fired without good cause (i.e., a spouse who fails to show up at work without reason and is fired as a result cannot obtain a reduction in alimony because of the loss of job).
  • A spouse who voluntarily and unreasonably quits his or her job or is fired without good cause (i.e., a spouse who fails to show up at work without reason and is fired as a result cannot obtain a reduction in alimony because of the loss of job) or
  • Expenses associated with a second marriage.

Elrod & Elrod Can Help You with Alimony Payments in Your Florida Divorce

To protect yourself, your future, and your assets, you need an experienced Florida divorce attorney who knows how to properly ask the court for the relief you need. Consult the qualified Jacksonville divorce lawyers at Elrod & Elrod today to explore your options in seeking alimony or in defending against a claim for alimony. Call 904-356-1282, email, or complete our online form.