In accordance with Florida law, (Fla. Stat. Ann. Sec. 61.08 2020), the court may order either party to pay alimony. An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony.
The statute specifies five distinct types of alimony:
- Bridge the gap;
The court may order temporary support during the proceedings if a party can show a need for support and the other spouse has the ability to pay. The court can maintain a semblance of stability and fairness during the proceedings this way. Temporary orders lapse upon a final judgment.
Bridge-the-gap alimony provides for short-term needs to help either party with transitioning to single life. This may include paying some bills awaiting the sale of the marital home or expenses associated with securing full-time employment. It is limited to two years. It also terminates upon death or remarriage of the receiving party.
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded where either party is able to become self-supporting but needs time and money to ramp up to full employment. This may include re-training, acquiring education, or work experience. The parties are required to make a specific and defined rehabilitative plan to the court.
When permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate, durational alimony may be awarded. Durational alimony provides a party with economic assistance for a set time following a marriage of short or moderate duration. It may be awarded following a long marriage if there is no ongoing need for support.
Durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the receiving party. The award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances. 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.
Permanent alimony is reserved for a party in need of financial assistance and is not expected to become self-supporting. Appropriate cases include disability, advanced age, or a minor child with special needs. The length of the marriage is a key consideration when deciding on a final award.
Like bridge-the-gap alimony, durational, rehabilitative, and permanent alimony ends if the paying spouse dies or the supported spouse remarries.
A party seeking alimony must demonstrate an actual need for alimony or maintenance. The party must find whether either party has the ability to pay. Upon making that determination, the court must decide the proper type and amount. To make these determinations the court is mandated to consider several factors (but is not limited by this list):
- Standard of living of the marriage;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Age and physical and emotional condition of each party;
- Financial resources of each party
- Earning capacity, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties, and when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to homemaking, child care, education, and career-building of the other party.
- The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
- All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
The court is empowered to order any party to pay alimony to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond or to otherwise secure such alimony award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose.
Modifying or Terminating Alimony
Unless agreed in writing barring either from asking the court to review alimony, either spouse can request a modification if there is a significant change in circumstances since the last support order. However, bridge-the-gap alimony is non-modifiable. The courts may modify the amount of durational support but not the length. If a spouse fails to comply with the rehabilitative alimony plan, the paying spouse can ask the court to modify or terminate the award later.
Taxes and Alimony
For divorces finalized before December 31, 2018, alimony payments were tax-deductible to the paying spouse and reportable income to the supported spouse.
If the court finalized your divorce on or after January 1, 2019, you can no longer take advantage of the tax deduction for alimony payments, and the supported spouse doesn’t report the money as income for tax purposes.
If you are considering requesting alimony, you will need an experienced legal team. Brodie Friedman is the top-rated family law firm in Florida. Any family and any situation, our experience and expertise will get you through these trying times. We’re here for you.
With over 30 years of combined experience, Jason Brodie Esq. and Joshua Friedman Esq. will guide you toward realistic goals and provide committed advocacy toward achieving them. They are known throughout South Florida for dedicated client service, tenacity, and success in complex divorce litigation involving property division, child custody, and spousal support.
To get a better understanding of the qualities our reputation is built on, contact our office in Boca Raton to schedule your initial phone consultation (561) 392-5100