Spousal Support Issues in Your Florida Divorce

The State of Florida, long considered one of the states more likely to award spousal support—particularly permanent spousal support—has recently seen these laws evolve as more women enter the workplace. When coupled with a shorter average marriage and more women capable of being self-supporting, the number of cases in which permanent spousal support is awarded has dropped. Further, several years ago, the Florida Statutes were amended, granting former spouses the right to reduce or eliminate the spousal support they were paying once their ex entered into a “financially supportive relationship,” with another person.

In other words ex-spouses across the state of Florida who had been cohabiting with a significant other—not marrying, only to retain their spousal support payments—now had reason to worry. The attorneys at The Law Place will take the necessary time to familiarize ourselves with every unique detail of your divorce, in order to provide you with the very best legal representation. Our attorneys will work hard to remove some of the stress and conflict from your case while we fight aggressively to ensure you receive an equitable division of marital assets and spousal support if you are entitled.

Further Changes to Florida Statutes Regarding Spousal Support

The courts also determined that using a spouse’s prior lifestyle during the marriage to determine spousal support obligations should no longer be a hallmark of what one spouse must pay or the other will receive. The receiving spouse is now entitled only to spousal support which is more than subsistence, but may not include the luxuries of the former married life. As an example, Florida ex-wives in the past who did not work outside the home could pretty much count on spousal support in an amount sufficient to include every expense incurred during marriage such as a housekeeper, clothing allowance, vacations, club memberships, recreations and hair and nail appointments.

This standard has shifted, and the use of a married lifestyle analysis is used less and less. Aside from older spouses who were married for a very long time, spouses with very young children or children with special needs, it is expected that both spouses will work, contributing to his or her own expenses. While the spouse with a lesser income could receive spousal support under the new laws, the amount would likely be absent any luxuries, and, in fact, was meant to eliminate any expenses categorized as “unnecessary personal expenses.” Nonetheless, spousal support in Florida has not been eliminated and there several types of support which may be awarded, based on your individual circumstances.

The types of spousal support currently supported by the State of Florida include:

Permanent spousal support is generally sought after by the spouse who feels it is necessary, and dreaded by the other. It is generally paid on a monthly basis and is paid until the receiving spouse remarries or one of the spouses dies. This means that permanent spousal support may actually last longer than the marriage itself in some cases. Permanent spousal support is generally given only in the case of a marriage of seventeen years or more (considered “long duration.”). Permanent spousal support may also be rewarded to a spouse who has serious health problems, is elderly or who gave up a job or career in order to support the other spouse’s career or raise the children.
Durational spousal support can be awarded in a moderate term marriage (more than seven years, less than seventeen), and is awarded to a spouse in need but for a shorter length of time than permanent spousal support.
Bridge-the-gap spousal support may be given for marriages less than seven years in length, to a spouse who requires temporary assistance to make the transition from married to single life. Bridge-the-gap spousal support cannot exceed two years, and cannot be modified in duration or amount once awarded.
Rehabilitative spousal support is intended to provide assistance to a spouse who needs to return to college to complete a degree or attend a type of training program in order to gain self-sufficiency.
Temporary spousal support is sometimes granted to a spouse until the divorce is finalized, and allows the non-working spouse to continue to have normal marital bills paid during this period.
Lump-sum spousal support is a single large payment which comes from the distribution of the marital assets.

What the Florida Courts Will Consider in the Award of Spousal Support

Florida law dictates that spousal support will be decided prior to the establishment of child support. When contemplating spousal support, the court will consider the following:

• How long the marriage has endured
• The standard of living of the couple while married
• The physical and mental health, age and financial resources of both spouses
• The contributions to child-rearing by both spouses
• Contributions by a spouse to the education or career of the other
• Although Florida is a no-fault divorce state, adultery and other types of marital fault may be taken into consideration when awarding spousal support.

The attorneys at The Law Place want you to receive the level of spousal support you deserve. We have the experience and an extensive knowledge of Florida divorce laws as well as the negotiation skills necessary to ensure a positive outcome for your divorce settlement, including the award of spousal support.

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