August 12, 2021
Marriages don’t always end up the way we imagined them. That much has become a fact as more and more couples turn to divorce after being married for some time. One aspect of a divorce that remains controversial up to this day is the issue of alimony, particularly permanent alimony. One of the purposes of permanent alimony is established to protect the lower-earning spouse from financial ruin after a divorce. To understand the complexities of alimony, let’s break down its many components and how the law works.
Components of Alimony
Divorce cases often take a long time to settle just because of the issue of alimony. Before we can look at permanent alimony, we must first understand its many components and how the court arrives at a decision about alimony. According to Fla. Stat. 61.08, alimony has many components, including:
- How a court determines an amount of alimony
- How the length of a marriage affects the length of the term of alimony
- The different types of alimony available
- What factors the court should consider in awarding alimony, and how much should be paid and for how long
- When alimony can be modified or terminated
Types of Alimony in a Florida Divorce Case
Spousal support can be awarded based upon a variety of circumstances, as mentioned above. Alimony is intended to make it possible for a spouse who has been financially dependent during the marriage to maintain an acceptable standard of living and to ease the transition back into single life. The following is a breakdown of several different types of spousal support:
- Permanent Alimony – As the name suggests, this allows the dependent spouse to receive alimony for the rest of his/her life. Permanent alimony is generally applicable for those who have been involved in a moderate to long-term marriage.
- Rehabilitative Alimony – In situations where one party needs economic assistance in order to get back on their feet and become self-supporting. There must be a plan of rehabilitation (i.e. school, training, or whatever is needed) to rehabilitate the former spouse.
- Bridge The Gap Alimony – Alimony for short-term marriage. The length of time is limited to two (2) years.
- Durational Alimony – This is a relatively new form of alimony where it is awarded after having been in what is deemed a short to moderate-term marriage. Durational alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage.
Reducing Your Risk of Permanent Alimony
The length of the marriage matters a lot when determining permanent alimony. According to Florida law, if you’ve been married for more than 17 years, permanent alimony can be considered by the court, along with all the other factors mentioned above. So does that mean that once you’re married for that long, you have to pay alimony forever?
The answer is no. Every case is different, and the 17-year threshold isn’t a hard and fast rule. Fla. Stat. 61.08 provides the court with a bareboned legal framework for determining the outcome of your case, but it really is up to the court to decide. Of course, your income will be considered and any other circumstances and events including the needs of your spouse.
Once the court determines that there is a rebuttable presumption of permanent alimony, there is an opportunity to challenge that presumption. You can do this by presenting evidence that either you do not have the ability to pay or the other spouse does not actually need alimony. You may need to prove that even if you’re the higher-earning spouse, you have assumed significant debt and liabilities that could leave you without the means to pay alimony.
Termination Of Permanent Alimony
The remarriage of your former spouse or death of either party. Also, if your former spouse is living with someone in a supportive relationship, the court may modify or terminate alimony.
Permanent alimony can be a tricky situation to deal with. This is what makes divorce cases that much more gruesome to go through for both parties. If you want to reduce the risk of getting permanent alimony, understanding how the court makes their decision would be your best defense. Hiring an expert in family law can help a lot and will make your case even stronger.
If you’re in need of an experienced Jacksonville family lawyer, then The Dorsey Law firm can help you with all your legal needs. Our firm counsels clients on a wide range of family law issues, including divorce, spousal support, relocation of children, property division, and domestic violence injunctions, among others. If our family law approach sounds like it might ease and resolve your divorce, contact Dorsey Law JAX today.