May 19, 2023
When it comes to finances in a marriage, one spouse is often dependent upon the other. If the two get divorced, the dependent spouse often wonders how they will maintain their lifestyle once the divorce is finalized. The answer is through spousal support or alimony payments.
Spousal support refers to payments made from one spouse to the other so that the spouse receiving the payments may maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed during their marriage.
As you might imagine, spousal support is a touchy subject and is frequently contested by the spouse who may end up having to pay. Therefore, you should have a St. Petersburg divorce attorney represent you if you need post-divorce financial support.
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What are the Different Types of Spousal Support?
Depending on the circumstances of the marriage and divorce, one or more of the five types of spousal support may be ordered by the court.
Temporary Spousal Support
Temporary spousal support is a type of pre-divorce alimony, awarded when couples decide to separate before filing for divorce, that lasts for the duration of the divorce proceedings. To receive temporary spousal support, a spouse must have their divorce lawyer demonstrate that they are in financial need of those payments.
However, proving financial need does not automatically guarantee that a spouse will receive temporary support: The court will not order temporary spousal support for one spouse if doing so would prevent the other spouse from providing for themselves.
In other words, the decision to award temporary alimony requires the court to perform a balancing act between one spouse’s needs and the other’s capabilities. The court makes its ultimate decision based on the evidence of financial need and financial capacity that each side’s divorce lawyer presents to the court.
Rehabilitative Spousal Support
Rehabilitative support refers to payments made to a spouse as they take measures to enter or re-enter the workforce. It is often awarded to stay-at-home spouses who must find work after the divorce proceedings are finalized.
After a long time out of the job market, these spouses must receive education or training before starting a new job. Rehabilitative payments are meant to support them during such a period of re-education. Once they find suitable, full-time employment, the payments will usually cease.
The court will likely not award rehabilitative alimony simply because a spouse needs education or training to find work. The judge needs a specific and defined rehabilitative plan and evidence that the rehabilitative plan will lead to an increase in the spouse’s employability and earning potential.
Bridge-the-Gap Spousal Support
Bridge-the-gap support resembles rehabilitative support in that one spouse makes payments to the other until the spouse receiving the payments finds suitable full-time employment.
The difference between the two is that spouses who receive bridge-the-gap support do not require schooling before finding a job and therefore typically begin their job searches immediately.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is a short-term measure that is typically ordered during the dissolution of short-term marriages, although it is sometimes ordered in the context of longer marriages as well.
The court requires spouses who seek this form of support to demonstrate that they are unable, despite their best efforts, to meet their essential financial needs as they transition back into single life. The maximum time a spouse may receive bridge-the-gap payments is two years.
Permanent Spousal Support
Permanent spousal support goes to spouses after long-term marriages (at least 17 years) and only when the spouse receiving the payments has no prospects of entering or re-entering the workforce.
That said, courts may also grant permanent alimony in marriages of moderate duration, which are presumed to last anywhere between seven and 17 years, upon proof that the award is appropriate based on clear and convincing evidence.
Courts might also award permanent alimony after a short-term marriage, but only if the recipient’s spousal support attorney proves that exceptional circumstances exist and that other forms of alimony are neither fair nor reasonable.
Although permanent, the amount of support received in such a case may change over time due to substantial changes in either spouse’s financial situation. Additionally, permanent spousal support will be terminated if the spouse receiving the payments remarries, enters into a supportive relationship, or when either spouse passes away.
Durational Spousal Support
Durational spousal support consists of payments that last for a specific amount of time. Typically, the courts order this type of support in short-term and moderate-term marriages and when certain circumstances need addressing or some issue needs to be resolved. Once the circumstance or issue has been taken care of, the support payments cease.
In some cases, durational support may be reviewed and extended, but these are not common. Additionally, orders for durational spousal support can not exceed the amount of time that the marriage lasted. For example, if a marriage lasted four years, an award for durational support may not be awarded for more than four years.
Important Factors Affecting Spousal Support Awards
As mentioned, various factors will influence a court’s decision when awarding spousal support, with the length of the marriage being one of the most important.
Outside of that, the court will also consider:
- The age and health of the spouses
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
- The earned and unearned income available to each spouse
- Assets and other financial resources available to the spouses
- Each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage
- The existence of minor-aged children
Another heavy factor is whether a spouse has an experienced spousal support attorney to represent them. Without one, a spouse who needs support is likely to get far less than they need to make it through post-divorce life. If you are going through a divorce and need spousal support, contact a divorce lawyer to fight for you.
Seek Guidance from an Experienced Divorce Attorney
When it comes to navigating the complexities of alimony, spousal support, and child support, it’s crucial to have a skilled family lawyer by your side. If you’re currently facing the challenge of determining payment arrangements, consult with a reputable family law attorney in St. Petersburg today.
By enlisting the help of a divorce lawyer, you’ll gain access to their comprehensive understanding of the legal processes involved. An experienced divorce attorney will address your concerns and develop a tailored strategy that promotes a mutually beneficial agreement between you and your spouse.