One question many divorcing Florida spouses may ask is whether one or the other will be entitled to an award of Florida spousal support. When compared to other states, Florida is known to be perhaps a bit more lenient regarding spousal support, particularly in the award of permanent spousal support. As more women enter the workplace, this trend is beginning to change; Florida statute §61.08 details the circumstances under which you may receive spousal support—or be required to pay spousal support. The statute notes there are several types of spousal support, including: permanent spousal support, bridge-the-gap spousal support, rehabilitative spousal support or durational spousal support. The payments may come in the form of periodic payments or one lump sum, and the judge in your case is allowed to consider adultery on the part of either spouse when determining an award of spousal support.
The following factors related to your marriage will be taken into consideration when determining an award of spousal support:
• The length of your marriage (a short-term marriage is considered to be less than seven years, a moderate-term marriage from seven years to seventeen years and a long-term marriage is one lasting longer than seventeen years)
• The standard of living you and your spouse have established during the time of your marriage.
• The age and health of you and your spouse
• The financial resources of both you and your spouse following the division of marital assets and liabilities. Both marital and non-marital assets will be considered in the determination of financial resources.
• The future earning capacity of you and your spouse
• The educational attainment of you and your spouse
• When applicable, how much time it will take for one spouse to obtain sufficient education or training to enable the pursuit of “appropriate” employment
• The contribution of you and your spouse to the marriage, including employment, homemaking, education and child care.
• The responsibilities each of you will have regarding the minor children of the marriage
• The effect of taxes will have on an award of spousal support for both parties
• All sources of income available to you and your spouse
• Any other factor the judge deems necessary to ensure equity and justice between you and your spouse
• The judge may order the paying spouse to maintain a life insurance policy which will ensure the payment of the spousal support in the event the paying spouse dies.
Bridge-the-gap spousal support may not last longer than two years and is meant to help the spouse with the lesser income make the transition from married life to single life, and assist with short-term needs such as obtaining a home or a vehicle. This type of spousal support may not be modified in terms or the length of time awarded, but terminates upon death of either spouse. Rehabilitative spousal support allows one spouse to become self-supporting by paying for the education, training or work experience necessary for that spouse to obtain appropriate employment. A detailed plan must be included when requesting rehabilitative spousal support.
In instances where permanent spousal support is inappropriate, durational spousal support may be awarded and is awarded for a set length of time in the case of a marriage of short or moderate duration. Durational spousal support terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving spouse and can be modified or terminated should a significant change occur. Permanent spousal support is meant to provide for the needs of one spouse who lacks the financial ability to meet those needs on their own, and is generally only awarded in marriages of long duration or in the case of moderate or short-term marriages only when exceptional circumstances exist. The award of spousal support may not leave the paying spouse with significantly less income than the receiving spouse, barring exceptional circumstances.
Your attorney from The Law Place can assess your individual situation and give you an idea of whether spousal support will be awarded in your case. Our attorneys have significant experience in helping clients like you through a divorce and have compassion for your situation as well as the necessary knowledge of Florida laws.
(1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court may grant alimony to either party, which alimony may be bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent in nature or any combination of these forms of alimony. In any award of alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded. In all dissolution actions, the court shall include findings of fact relative to the factors enumerated in subsection (2) supporting an award or denial of alimony.
(2) In determining whether to award alimony or maintenance, the court shall first make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance. If the court finds that a party has a need for alimony or maintenance and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance, then in determining the proper type and amount of alimony or maintenance under subsections (5)-(8), the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage.
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
(3) To the extent necessary to protect an award of alimony, the court may order any party who is ordered to pay alimony to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure such alimony award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose.
(4) For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.
(5) Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs, and the length of an award may not exceed 2 years. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony shall not be modifiable in amount or duration.
(6)(a) Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either:
1. The redevelopment of previous skills or credentials; or
2. The acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials.
(b) In order to award rehabilitative alimony, there must be a specific and defined rehabilitative plan which shall be included as a part of any order awarding rehabilitative alimony.
(c) An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated in accordance with s. 61.14based upon a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.
(7) Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances in accordance with s. 61.14. However, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
(8) Permanent alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage. Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration if such an award is appropriate upon consideration of the factors set forth in subsection (2), following a marriage of moderate duration if such an award is appropriate based upon clear and convincing evidence after consideration of the factors set forth in subsection (2), or following a marriage of short duration if there are written findings of exceptional circumstances. In awarding permanent alimony, the court shall include a finding that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship in accordance with s. 61.14.
(9) The award of alimony may not leave the payor with significantly less net income than the net income of the recipient unless there are written findings of exceptional circumstances.
(10)(a) With respect to any order requiring the payment of alimony entered on or after January 1, 1985, unless the provisions of paragraph (c) or paragraph (d) apply, the court shall direct in the order that the payments of alimony be made through the appropriate depository as provided in s. 61.181.
(b) With respect to any order requiring the payment of alimony entered before January 1, 1985, upon the subsequent appearance, on or after that date, of one or both parties before the court having jurisdiction for the purpose of modifying or enforcing the order or in any other proceeding related to the order, or upon the application of either party, unless the provisions of paragraph (c) or paragraph (d) apply, the court shall modify the terms of the order as necessary to direct that payments of alimony be made through the appropriate depository as provided in s. 61.181.
(c) If there is no minor child, alimony payments need not be directed through the depository.
(d)1. If there is a minor child of the parties and both parties so request, the court may order that alimony payments need not be directed through the depository. In this case, the order of support shall provide, or be deemed to provide, that either party may subsequently apply to the depository to require that payments be made through the depository. The court shall provide a copy of the order to the depository.
2. If the provisions of subparagraph 1. apply, either party may subsequently file with the depository an affidavit alleging default or arrearages in payment and stating that the party wishes to initiate participation in the depository program. The party shall provide copies of the affidavit to the court and the other party or parties. Fifteen days after receipt of the affidavit, the depository shall notify all parties that future payments shall be directed to the depository.
3. In IV-D cases, the IV-D agency shall have the same rights as the obligee in requesting that payments be made through the depository.