What is Alimony?

What is Alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance in other states or countries, is a court-ordered financial payment made by one spouse to the other after a divorce or separation. The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support to a spouse who is economically dependent on the other spouse, particularly when one spouse has a higher income or earning capacity than the other.

Alimony may be awarded to either the husband or wife and may be ordered for a limited period of time or on a “permanent” basis. Permanent is in quotation marks here because it isn’t actually lifetime alimony. It is alimony without a specific end date, but can be modified or terminated before death for various reasons, including retirement, demotion or job changes resulting in income changes, disability, or a supportive relationship that reduces or eliminates the recipient’s need for the alimony. The amount of alimony awarded depends on a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and the needs of the spouse requesting support.

In Florida, there are several types of alimony that can be awarded, including:

  1. Bridge-the-gap alimony: Short-term support to help a spouse transition from married life to single life.
  2. Rehabilitative alimony: Support for a spouse while they undergo education or training to improve their earning capacity.
  3. Durational alimony: Support for a specific period of time, typically for marriages of moderate duration.
  4. Permanent alimony: Support for a spouse with ongoing need, usually in long-term marriages or when the spouse has a disability.
  5. Lump-sum alimony: Payment of a fixed sum of money as a one-time settlement.

It is important to note that alimony is not awarded in every divorce case, and each case is unique. The determination of alimony can be complex, and it is advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to understand the specific laws and guidelines governing alimony in Florida. And keep in mind that the Florida legislature continues to debate bills that will change the alimony laws if signed into law by the Governor, which would overhaul alimony in Florida and eliminate “permanent” alimony altogether as well as provide a formula for calculating the amount of alimony. Stay tuned.

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