Spousal Support: We Offer the Knowledge and Dedication You Need
The issue of spousal support and alimony is delicate and cause an acrimonious departure from the marriage both parties valued before. Spousal support and alimony guidelines are outlined by law in Florida and must be followed by the divorcing parties. In general, alimony is paid by one party to another to maintain the standard of living the receiving spouse had become accustomed to during the marriage.
Spousal support/alimony legal issues require skilled advocacy. Attorney Radoyka J. Minaya is a Florida Bar Board certified experienced Florida Family Law lawyer with the dedication and knowledge required to represent you in your Alimony/Spousal Support legal proceedings.
What is Alimony/Spousal Support?
Spousal Support, commonly referred to as Alimony, is the monetary support paid monthly by one spouse for the benefit of the other spouse. The court has broad discretion in awarding any amount of money that is necessary for the support of the recipient spouse as long as the court’s decision is based on the facts and the circumstances existing at the time the alimony award is granted.
It can be awarded to either the husband or the wife and not mandatory that the court award any money to a spouse. Spousal support ceases on the death of the supporting spouse. It is wise to obtain life insurance on the life of the supporting spouse if you are relying on spousal support payments as your sole source of income.
Spousal Support is taxable as income to the supported spouse and it is a tax deduction for the supporting spouse. In contrast to spousal support, child support payments are not treated as income and are not tax deductible.
Types of Alimony in Florida
In Florida legal proceedings for dissolution of marriage, the court may grant spousal support/alimony to either party as follows:
- Florida Permanent Alimony allows a spouse who has not worked (or has lower income or lower earning potential) to continue to live in the same standard of living as enjoyed during the marriage. Permanent alimony is more likely to be awarded in a long-term marriage (defined as a marriage greater than 17 years in length). Permanent alimony is rare and usually only happens when one spouse has been seriously injured or has come down with an incurable disease that does not allow them to support themselves.
- Florida Rehabilitative Alimony is typically awarded in short ( less than seven years) and moderate-term (greater than seven years but less than 17 years) marriages to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support. Often the rehabilitative claim is made by a party who has given up their education or job to raise children and now needs support so they can finish or reestablish themselves in the workforce with education and/or training.
- Florida Durational Alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate and the purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration; or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances.
- Florida Bridge-the-gap Alimony is short-term alimony and cannot exceed two years in length. It can be awarded to a party to allow the party to ease the financial transition from married life to single life.
- Florida Temporary Alimony can be awarded to a party to cover their needs from the time that the dissolution of marriage action is filed through the entry of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
- Florida Lump Sum Alimony can be used in some circumstances as a means of support and other times can be used to equalize the asset distribution (i.e., one party may be awarded a business, and the other party is awarded lump sum alimony as an offset).
Each type of alimony serves a different purpose and many factors influence what type of alimony will be awarded or whether alimony will be awarded by the Court at all. In any award of alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.
Is Alimony Always Available in Florida?
Alimony payments are not a part of every divorce decree. In determining whether to award alimony or maintenance, the court shall first make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance.
A spouse can prove there is a need by showing that he or she will not be able to achieve his or her former standard of living after considering income, as well as any proceeds from the equitable distribution of the marital assets.
Determining Alimony Support Payments in Florida
Once a judge decides that alimony payments are appropriate under Florida law, the judge will consider the following factors when determining the amount of alimony:
- Duration of the marriage and standard of living established during the marriage
- All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party
- Earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, employability of the parties, and the time necessary to acquire education or training
- Financial resources of the parties including the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each
- Age, as well as the physical and emotional condition of the parties
- Tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award
- Each party’s responsibilities with the minor children and the contribution of each party to the marriage including homemaking, child care, education etc.
- Adultery of either spouse
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Modification of Spousal Support in Florida
Alimony in Florida is normally modifiable in amount and sometimes duration and is dependent on the specific type of alimony that was awarded. Florida courts will consider modifying a spousal support order if the supporting spouse can show a “Substantial Change in Circumstances.” If you do not satisfy that requirement, you cannot open an alimony modification case.
A “substantial change in circumstances” means a change that was not anticipated at the time that the alimony was ordered by the court. The change must be permanent, involuntary, and material. Substantial changes include job loss, retirement, death, illness and remarriage of one or both of the spouses.
Florida Supportive Relationship Law (Cohabitation Law)
A “supportive relationship” for purposes of Florida law may exist in cases where an ex-spouse and alimony recipient is residing with another person to whom he or she is not related. Florida courts could consider cohabitation of the alimony receiving spouse as a substantial change.
If the spouse receiving alimony begins a live-in relationship with someone who contributes to her financial support, the Florida courts will consider the additional income as grounds for a possible reduction in the amount of alimony the spouse is entitled to. The Florida “supportive relationship” law (Cohabitation) can also end permanent alimony in the event of the payee’s lack of continued need for alimony because of the payee’s new supportive relationship.
Just because one ex-spouse suspects the other is in a supportive relationship does not mean he or she can stop paying alimony and bears the burden of producing evidence showing that a supportive relationship exists.
Free Initial Consultation for Alimony/Spousal Support
Free Child Custody and/or Child Support Consultation in South Florida including Plantation, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami.
In order to provide the best answers possible regarding spousal support or alimony, the Minaya Law Offices Law offers a free initial consultation with an experienced alimony/spousal support attorney at their Plantation Office. Call 954-526-9092 or complete the contact form we will contact you. We can help you understand Florida alimony laws and how they will apply in your case. Se habla Español.