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Common questions about alimony in Florida

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2021 | Spousal Support/Alimony |

What are the types of alimony in Florida?

Alimony is a payment from a former spouse to his or her former spouse. It is to help provide support and to ensure there is not a huge discrepancy in the standard of living for each party after the divorce.

According to the Florida Statutes, there are four types of alimony you can get in the state.

Permanent

Permanent alimony occurs when the court feels long-term support is necessary. It generally applies if you are unable to work for some reason or if there is a very large difference between the standard of living you can provide yourself and the one you had during the marriage. You will receive this type of alimony until you or your former spouse dies or if you remarry. It can also end if either of you has a substantial change in financial circumstances.

Bridge-the-gap

Bridge-the-gap alimony is for a transitional period. It gives you payments during the time it will take for you to become independent and financially secure after the divorce. It is short-term only and has a definitive end date.

Durational

Durational alimony is an alternative to permanent alimony. It is for a set time, and the end date cannot change once set by the court. The time it lasts cannot be longer than the length of your marriage. For example, if your marriage lasted 10 years, then your alimony can last up to 10 years.

Rehabilitative

Rehabilitative alimony enables you to receive payments while you prepare to enter the job market. For a court to award it, you must have a clear plan to get to work.

If the court awards alimony in your divorce, it will always fall under one of these categories. You should make sure to note which kind you will receive as they all have different rules.

For how long will you receive alimony?

You may be well aware that Florida rarely awards permanent alimony anymore. To prevent high-income earners from having to assume financial responsibility for their otherwise capable ex-spouses for the rest of their lives, Florida lawmakers established various types of alimony, which vary in duration. 

There are three types of non-permanent alimony that Florida recognizes. Per Florida Statute 61.08, those are bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony and durational alimony. What type of alimony the judge awards will determine for how long you receive it and under what conditions. 

  • Bridge-the-gap alimony: The goal of bridge-the-gap alimony is to help you transition from your married to your single life. Before awarding this type of support, the judge will identify your legitimate short-term needs and determine an amount based on the anticipated cost of those. Bridge-the-gap alimony may not exceed a term of two years, and it terminates in the event that you remarry before the two years is up or that either you or your ex passes away.
  • Rehabilitative alimony: The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to help you obtain the training, education or work experience necessary to establish self-sufficiency. To receive this type of alimony, you must present to the judge an actionable rehabilitative plan. Support terminates when you complete said plan. You or your spouse can petition for modification or termination based on a substantial change in circumstances or your non-compliance with the plan.
  • Durational alimony: A judge may award duration alimony if he or she determines that permanent alimony is not appropriate. Durational alimony is designed to provide you with assistance for a pre-determined period of time. The length of said period may not exceed that of your marriage. You may receive durational support regardless of the length of your marriage, and either you or your former spouse may petition for modification based on a substantial change in circumstances. However, a judge will not terminate this type of support unless you or your spouse passes away or unless either party can prove the existence of exceptional circumstances. 

If you anticipate needing support following your divorce, discuss your concerns with a skilled support lawyer. The right attorney can advocate for your best interests and ensure you receive the support you need.   

Can your ex-spouse cohabitate and still qualify for alimony?

If you were the primary income earner in your marital home in Florida, then you likely understand the challenges your now ex-spouse may face in maintaining the same standard of living following your divorce. Because of this understanding, you may have no issue in providing them with spousal support as they transition into their post-divorce life.

What you do not want, however, is for them to take advantage of you. Yet that may be exactly what they believe they can do by refusing to remarry even after they enter into another committed relationship.

Cohabitation’s effect on alimony

The perceived logic behind such an action is that if they do not remarry, you remain obligated to pay them alimony. Yet state lawmakers do not want the privilege of spousal support abused. Thus, statutes exist that allow you to end your alimony obligation if and when your ex-spouse cohabitates with another romantic partner.

According to Section 61.14 of the Florida State Statutes. the court uses the following factors to determine if your ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship:

  • The degree to which they and their new partner present themselves as a married couple
  • The extent to which they and their new partner comingle their assets and liabilities
  • Any significant purchases of (or investment of resources in) significant assets the two make together
  • Whether their new partner provides them (and/or your children) with the bulk of their financial support
  • The length of time of their cohabitation

The burden of proof

If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to remember that the court will typically not research these events without some form of notification. Therefore, the burden of proof falls to you to show that your ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship.

Should you have further questions about alimony in Florida, do not hesitate to reach out to our office.