If you are divorcing in Florida and you earn more than your spouse, you must understand the rules and have realistic expectations going forward. There are many different types of alimony and some may apply to your case and some will not.
You might be wondering if there is any difference between alimony and spousal support. In Florida, the term, “alimony” isn’t used. “Spousal support” is used instead. They are synonymous. Alimony, by definition, is financial support that the court has ordered one of the spouses to pay as part to the other. This support will help the spouse during and possibly after the divorce. In the past, alimony became a reality at a time when many households were living on one income only (it was often the husband who was bringing home a paycheck). The wife was often the one to stay at home and take care of the house and children.
Has the support agreement changed since there are fewer single-income homes now?
Spousal support is still a reality although there has been an adjustment to the approach. Now, if we consider a household in which both spouses work but they don’t earn an equal amount of money, the other spouse has a responsibility to pay them to ensure that their lifestyle doesn’t change.
Another possible scenario is if the first spouse earns money at a job and the second spouse contributes to the household in other ways that don’t bring in money. That spouse will be supported financially. Their contribution is considered just as valuable although a paycheck doesn’t say that.
Are there different types of spousal support in Florida?
Florida has five different types of spousal support. The judge can award any one of the five types in a divorce. As an alternative to a judge awarding the specific type of spousal support, the couple can also reach a support agreement between them without the court getting involved. The only time that the court gets involved is if the couple is unable to reach an agreement between them.
From the court’s perspective, both spouses should be allowed to enjoy the same lifestyle and if one spouse earns all (or most) of the money, it should be shared between the two people so that it comes out even.
- Temporary spousal support: This type of support is awarded to the spouse who earns a lower amount of money. It is meant to get them through the divorce process. Just as the name implies, once the divorce is final, the support will end.
- Bridge-the-gap support: This is not a common type of support but Florida does have it. This type of support is intended to bridge the gap for the lower-income spouse between the marriage and the divorce. It is short-term support. It is only meant to last for two years because the support is meant to keep the spouse financially comfortable until some significant transitional things happen, such as selling the family home or getting a full-time job.
- Rehabilitative support: This type of support is probably the most common. The support allows the supported spouse to become completely independent through retraining, education and career advancement. For this type of support to be awarded, the lower-earning spouse must prove that they need this type of support. They are obligated to show details such as the cost of retraining and education and demonstrate how their plan for independence will actually lead to their being on their own.
- Durational support: This is support that is awarded for a specific amount of time. The timeframe may start out as one thing and then may be modified by the judge if circumstances change. One rule that everyone must follow is that the length of the support cannot be longer than the length of the marriage.
Is spousal support a part of every divorce?
Not necessarily. It is often a hot issue and many people get emotional about the idea of paying. The supporting spouse may very well have one opinion but the judge may have another and the judge gets to decide if the case goes to court. It is probably an issue that will continue to be debated but it will never be completely eliminated in all likelihood.