February 12, 2013
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is the financial obligation that one spouse is obligated to pay the other spouse after a legal separation or divorce. While Florida law does not specifically address legal separations, temporary alimony can be awarded after the filing of a divorce case and before the entry of a Final Judgment. All other forms of alimony are awarded at the entry of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. The following will outline different types of alimony that can be awarded in a family law case.
Temporary alimony allows the financially dependent spouse a chance to move into a separate residence and buy the necessities during the pendency of the case. Temporary alimony is supposed to maintain the spouse in the style to which he/she has become accustomed to during the marriage.
Rehabilitative alimony, while not permanent, differs from temporary alimony because rehabilitative support is ordered at the conclusion of a case and the purpose is to assist the former spouse to acquire or re-acquire the skills necessary for them to get a job and become self-sufficient. In 2010, the statute changed to specifically state that rehabilitative alimony can be modified based upon a substantial change in circumstances by either party.
Bridge-the-Gap alimony is similar to rehabilitative alimony, but it is non-modifiable and can last no longer than two years. This type of support is used to ease the transition from married life to single life. If the party receiving the bridge-the-gap support remarries, the obligation to pay is terminated.
Durational alimony is support that is ordered for a set amount of time and is based on the length of the marriage. The support obligation cannot last longer than the length of the marriage and can be modified or terminated by future court order if the judge finds that there are �exceptional circumstances�. Durational alimony is automatically terminated due to the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving party.
Lump-Sum alimony is a type of alimony that is a certain dollar amount which can be paid in a lump sum or in payments. Typically, lump sum alimony can't be changed (non-modifiable) and is only awarded in special circumstances such as no children, substantial assets, and no further reason for the parties to have a continuing relationship.
Permanent alimony is a type of support that pays for the "needs and necessities of life" established during the marriage. The "needs and necessities of life" is determined by the judge and the standard of living during the marriage. Most long-term marriages and some medium-term marriages will qualify for this type of support. Permanent alimony can also be modified due to the death of either party, the remarriage of the recipient, the recipient living in a "supportive relationship", or a provable "substantial change in circumstance".
The type and amount of alimony awarded is influenced by the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, rehabilitative needs, standard of living, standing case law, statutes, and need and ability to pay. The award of alimony is not a given and it is always a good idea to have a legal professional help you, so that you can benefit from their years of experience and expertise. Also remember that alimony is a taxable event and the payor will get a tax deduction, while the recipient will have to pay taxes on any funds received.
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