March 11, 2023
Do I qualify for Alimony? Alimony is one of the top considerations when a couple negotiates a divorce settlement. Alimony is a form of financial support paid by one spouse to another to help them maintain the standard of living they enjoyed while married.
Florida law permits several forms of alimony, and while you may not be eligible for one, you could qualify for another. If you aren’t sure what kind of spousal support you are entitled to, a local St. Petersburg divorce attorney can help you explore your options.
What Is Alimony and Why Would I Receive It?
The purpose of alimony is to reduce the financial disparity between divorcing spouses. While married, both spouses may have enjoyed communal funds and had a certain standard of living.
After a divorce, one spouse may earn significantly more than the other, so alimony may be awarded to the spouse who earns less to make up for the reduced standard of living they would otherwise have.
Florida divorce courts award alimony based on one spouse’s ability to pay it and the other spouse’s need for financial support. This is not the only factor a judge may consider, though.
The length of time for alimony payments may be another factor. A judge might award more alimony support to a spouse finishing school or to one who has been a stay-at-home parent for many years until they can secure a higher-paying job.
However, the spouse paying alimony will not be left with a significantly smaller net income than the receiving spouse’s net income.
Alimony negotiations can create serious conflict in a divorce. An experienced divorce lawyer can represent you in the negotiations and help you receive what you deserve.
Florida’s Five Types of Alimony
Florida has five types of alimony available. A judge may choose to award one, several, or none of the types for a specified period of time. Alimony payments may be made in a lump sum, or periodically, such as in monthly or bi-monthly installments.
You may qualify for:
- Durational Alimony: Not to exceed the length of the marriage
- Temporary Alimony: For the duration of the divorce proceedings
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony: To help one spouse transition to single life
- Rehabilitative Alimony: Allowing one spouse to obtain education or job skills
- Permanent Alimony: Continuing until either spouse’s death or the receiving spouse’s remarriage
Permanent alimony is typically only given in cases of a moderate- to long-duration marriage. Durational alimony or other contingency forms are much more common, especially for short- to moderate-length marriages.
Can I Get Alimony Without Filing for Divorce?
Some spouses may be entitled to receive alimony without being divorced. Because Florida does not recognize a legal separation, alimony may need to pay for housing a couple cannot cohabitate during their divorce.
Under Florida Statute 61.09, alimony during separation is awarded due to the continued right of the paying spouse to participate in the estate of the other spouse (and considers the possibility that the couple will reconcile).
Spouses have a legal responsibility to provide financial support for one another, which is the basis of alimony. Therefore, it may be awarded even if the couple is separated and not yet divorced. The alimony awarded in these cases is roughly equal to that which was established during the duration of the marriage.
If you are separated and waiting for your divorce to be finalized, ask your divorce attorney about filing for pre-divorce alimony.
Eligibility Requirements for Alimony in Florida
At least one spouse must be a Florida resident for more than six months prior to filing for divorce to be eligible for alimony, though durational alimony is exempt from this requirement.
The couple is not required to live apart for a judge to order one spouse to pay the other alimony. Additionally, the party paying alimony does not have to be an at-fault party in the divorce.
Alimony is based on financial disparity and not the grounds for divorce. There isn’t a specific formula to determine alimony in Florida; it is at the discretion of the judge overseeing the case.
The judge applies a two-part determinant to each couple based on whether:
- The party requesting alimony needs financial support
- The party being asked for alimony can pay it
If both criteria are met, the judge will grant alimony.
Your divorce attorney will need to prove that you require alimony by submitting your pay stubs, proof of a lack of income, or bank statements and investment records. Your lawyer will also need to prove that your spouse can pay alimony.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Alimony Awards
Many people wonder how much alimony they will get or if they have to pay alimony to a spouse whom they feel is not entitled to it. Your divorce lawyer will answer the questions specific to your circumstances, but here are answers to some of the most common questions.
Will Adultery Affect My Alimony?
No. Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not have to have a stated reason for the divorce. Even if adultery is involved, it will likely not impact any alimony decision. However, if communal funds were spent on the affair, the unfaithful spouse may be ordered to pay restitution.
How Does the Length of My Marriage Affect Alimony?
Typically, the longer the marriage, the greater the alimony award. A short-term marriage lasts fewer than seven years, a moderate-term marriage lasts 7 to 17 years, and a long-term marriage lasts longer than 17 years.
How Can My Florida Alimony Be Modified?
If a substantial, material, or unexpected change in circumstances was not present when the judge initially made an alimony decision, then one spouse may seek a modification of alimony. A modification can increase, decrease, cease, or start alimony. The most common reason for a modification is the loss of income for one spouse.
You Need Legal Representation to Negotiate Alimony in Your Divorce?
If you plan to seek alimony in your divorce, negotiating with your soon-to-be ex-spouse can be difficult without an experienced divorce attorney. Divorce is an emotional time, but your divorce lawyer is a cool head and negotiating partner, helping advocate for you and protecting you throughout the process.