A divorce is not easy for anyone, but it can be particularly difficult when there is a significant gap in income. If you stayed home to raise your children or manage the household, you may be worried about how you will support yourself going forward.
There has been a lot of talk about alimony reform in Florida, but little progress has been made on that front. Alimony reform advocates are pushing to get rid of permanent alimony, but this has not come to pass yet. Even if it does, it will most likely not be retroactive, so ex-spouses who have settled their divorces will have to continue alimony payments. Here is what you need to know about current alimony law in Florida.
When considering alimony, the court looks at several factors. These factors determine whether alimony is awarded, and if so, how much and for how long. These include:
- The length of the marriage
- Both spouses’ incomes
- The earning capacity of each partner
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Assets owned by each spouse
- Age and health of each partner
- Whether one spouse contributed to the marriage as a homemaker
- Child custody arrangement
- Tax consequences of alimony
The length of the marriage plays a significant role in what alimony is awarded. This is part of the issue alimony reform advocates have with current Florida law. Based on these factors, the court may decide to award one of five different kinds of alimony.
The shortest form of alimony is temporary alimony. This awarded during the divorce process to help one spouse with the financial burden of getting a divorce.
Bridge-the-gap alimony starts after a divorce is finalized, and it is a short-term solution. It helps a former spouse cover expenses while he or she waits for a house to sell or is in enrolled in a training or education program. It only lasts up to two years.
If one partner needs to acquire an education or some other employment training, rehabilitative alimony pays for the former spouse’s schooling or training. The ex-partner must submit a plan that outlines how much money is needed to pay for the program.
This alimony is awarded when other types of support are insufficient. However, it cannot last longer than the length of the marriage.
For marriages that last longer than 17 years, the court may award permanent alimony. Permanent alimony can be awarded for shorter marriages, depending on the needs of the former spouse. Certain factors increase the likelihood of permanent alimony, like a former spouse who is in poor health or who served as a homemaker for the length of a marriage.
If you are worried about alimony, you may want to seek the legal guidance of a Florida family law attorney. An attorney can advise you if you qualify and help you get what is fair to move forward.