Understanding Alimony In The State of Florida
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
Family law involves several different areas. One area of family law is dissolution of marriage. When handling dissolution cases, clients often ask whether alimony is available in Florida. Often times, one of the parties in a dissolution matter believe they have a need for financial assistance from the other party. That financial assistance is called alimony.
Florida law allows several different types of alimony. The Court can award temporary alimony until the final divorce hearing is held. At the final hearing, the Court may order a final alimony amount. Several factors are considered when the Court is asked to order alimony.
The length of the marriage is a major consideration for Florida alimony. The length of the marriage is generally put into one of three different classifications. 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. To obtain Florida alimony, there has must be a need for assistance on the part of the requesting party and an ability to pay alimony by the other party.
Permanent alimony is generally only ordered for long-duration marriages, as long as the legal criteria are met. It is also available for moderate-duration marriages if the Court deems it is appropriate, based on clear and convincing evidence in consideration of the legal factors. It may also be allowed for short-duration marriage in exceptional circumstances. If the Court awards permanent alimony, it must make a finding that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable. Permanent alimony may be modified, based upon a substantial change of circumstances.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is a short-term need, not to exceed two years. It is typically for short- or moderate-duration marriage, however, it can be for long-duration marriage, if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. Bridge-the-gap alimony is not modifiable as to amount or duration.
Rehabilitative Alimony can be modified upon a substantial change of circumstances pursuant to Florida Statute, or upon non compliance with the rehabilitative plan, or completion of the plan.
Collection of Alimony
Florida alimony can be withheld from a paycheck, and is the most common form of collection. A party can also be ordered to pay the money to Support Enforcement, who will distribute it to the other party. Failure to pay alimony can result in the suspension of driving privileges. However, the court may allow a work permit. If a party is unemployed or underemployed and fails to pay court ordered support, the judge can order the party to seek employment and enter a job training or work program.
Termination of Alimony
Generally, alimony will terminate when the recipient re-marries. A court may also reduce or terminate alimony when the recipient is residing with someone in a “supportive” relationship. There are several criteria which the court will consider in deciding whether a “supportive” relationship exists, such as whether the couple hold themselves out as husband and wife, and the nature of their financial dealings. Durational alimony terminates upon death of either party, the re-marriage of obligee, or substantial change of circumstances pursuant to Florida Statute. Bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon death of either party or re-marriage of the obligee. Rehabilitative alimony terminates upon substantial change of circumstances pursuant to Florida Statute or upon completion of the plan.
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