Will There Be Alimony In Your South Florida Divorce?
Spousal support, or alimony, is a bone of contention in many divorces. A spouse of lesser means may seek financial support to get re-established or maintain a lifestyle. The breadwinner may object to paying alimony on top of child support and half the property. The judge may have another perspective on spousal support.
I have litigated divorces in South Florida for over 30 years, including arguments for and against spousal support on behalf of my clients. I can walk you through the statutory factors and gauge whether alimony is likely to be awarded based on similar cases I have handled.
The Factors In Spousal Support (Alimony)
It’s not the 1950s anymore. Judges presume that both parties can earn her own way in the world. Permanent alimony is addressed when the parties have been married for 17 years or more. However, there are many situations where short-term (or even long-term) support is merited. Florida statute outlines different forms of alimony to enable an ex-spouse to become self-supporting or to acknowledge when a spouse lacks the capacity for financial independence.
The court looks at statutory factors, including:
- Length of the marriage
- Age and health of each spouse
- Income disparity
- Earning capacity (education and work history)
- The accustomed standard of living during the marriage
- Contributions to the marriage
- Responsibilities toward minor children
- Financial resources of each spouse
Bridge-the-gap alimony is “get back on your feet” support. Rehabilitative alimony allows for a spouse to re-establish a career, get new training or get an education to increase their earning power. Durational alimony provides assistance for a fixed period not to exceed the length of the marriage. Permanent alimony is reserved for long-term marriages or a finding that the spouse lacks the ability to meet their own needs.
Alimony Litigation And Alternatives
If the court finds that spousal support is merited, it may be awarded as monthly alimony or as a lump sum. The award, the amount and the duration are rebuttable in divorce proceedings. I have litigated this issue on behalf of clients, with the use of experts for vocational evaluations of earning capacity, imputed income of a self-employed or unemployed spouse, and discovery of hidden income sources.
Alimony can also be addressed in settlement negotiations. Sometimes a spouse will accept a trade-off in lieu of periodic alimony, such as the payor spouse taking on additional debts or giving up a larger share of retirement savings. With over 30 years of divorce law, I know many ways to make the math work.