Under Florida law, an ex-wife or an ex-husband may be entitled to receive continued financial support from their former spouse, which is usually known as spousal support or alimony. Coplan-Gardner & Gardner, PA, has nearly four decades of combined experience handling divorce and alimony cases, including modifications and enforcement.
Types of Alimony
In Florida, there are five different types of alimony.
- Temporary - Temporary alimony, referred to by the courts as pendente lite, is usually granted during a divorce. This is intended to allow the lower-earning spouse to support themselves while the divorce is underway. Temporary alimony ends once the divorce is finalized.
- Durational Alimony - The length of this type of alimony depends on how long you were married. If you were married, for example, 20 years, you wouldn’t be required to pay or allowed to receive alimony for more than 20 years.
- Rehabilitative Alimony - Designed to have one spouse help the other spouse with education or training to help gain employment, this type of plan must indicate the time and money required to meet these goals.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony - A short-term type of alimony, bridge-the-gap is meant to help only during the transitional period after the divorce is final. Under Florida law, this can only last up to two years and is only to help fulfill short-term needs.
- Permanent Alimony - A judge may determine that one spouse is required to support the other spouse for the indefinite future. The judge will have to state why they believe permanent spousal support is needed.
How Alimony is Determined
Either spouse can request alimony, and the court will review and evaluate whether the request is warranted and if the other spouse can pay. A judge assesses the following factors:
- The standard of living established by both parties during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- Seven or fewer years is short-term
- Seven to 17 years is moderate-term
- 17 or more years is long-term
- Both spouse's age and emotional and physical health
- Both spouse's financial resources, including marital and nonmarital properties, liabilities and other assets
- Both spouse’s contributions to the marriage, such as childcare, homemaking, career-building and education
- Both spouse’s earning capacity, vocational skills, educational level and employability are factors, as well as the length of time it may take either spouse to receive sufficient training or education to find employment
- If either spouse will have parental duties to minor children in the home
- Any tax consequences of alimony
- All income sources afforded to both spouses, including any investment income
- Any other factors that are applicable to help a judge create a fair alimony award
Additionally, if one of the spouses committed adultery, a judge may look at how the affair impacted their marital funds.
Modifying and Enforcing Alimony
Unless couples agree in the original alimony settlement that neither party will ever ask the court to review a modification, either spouse can at any time request a modification provided there is a significant change in circumstances. It is important to note that bridge-the-gap alimony is not subject to modifications. Courts may also modify the amount of spousal support but not the length of time. Additionally, if the supported spouse does not comply with the terms of the alimony plan, such as obtaining an education, etc., the paying spouse may request that the court modify or terminate the award altogether.
The best way to enforce alimony is to have an experienced attorney file a Motion for Contempt with the same court where the alimony was established. A judge could order that the non-paying spouse’s personal financial estate be confiscated, and the amounts from that are applied towards outstanding alimony payments, be forced to serve up to 180 days in jail or garnishment of their wages.
A Legal Team That Works For You
The experienced legal team of Coplan-Gardner & Gardner has years of experience handling all types of alimony cases. If you are seeking alimony during a divorce, or you are going through a divorce and attempting to prove alimony should not be paid, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.
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