Chapter 61.08 of the Florida Statutes states that, “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.”
For purposes of determining alimony, 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. The following statutory rebuttable presumptions apply:
• 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
• A long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater.
Chapter 61.08 of the Florida Statutes outlines the various forms of alimony for divorcing Florida couples. There are five (5) types of alimony:
I. Bridge-the-gap: Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to assist a spouse by providing support to allow the spouse 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.
II. Rehabilitative: 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.
An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated in accordance with s.61.14 based upon a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.
III. Durational: 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.
IV. Permanent: 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 (17 years) if such an award is appropriate upon consideration of the factors set forth in subsection (2), following a marriage of moderate duration (8-16 years) 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 (less than 7 years) 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.
V. Lump-sum: Lump-sum alimony is a fixed sum certain to be paid all at one time to the receiving spouse. However, it is possible to divide up the “lump sum” into a payment plan based for a variety of reasons including receipt of proceeds from the future sale of the marital residence, a business or other asset.
If you are contemplating a divorce, in the middle of the process right now and needing representation or seeking a modification of an alimony award, call us today and we can advise you of your options.