Alimony and Spousal Support

In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court may grant alimony. There are four (4) types of periodic alimony: bridge the gap, rehabilitative, durational and permanent. In awarding alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. The court may consider the adultery (marital fault) of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony to be awarded.

Alimony is intended to provide support or maintenance for one of the parties based on: (1) the actual need for alimony and (2) the ability to pay alimony. Maintenance is intended to provide support during the dissolution of marriage or in the event there is a request for support unconnected with the dissolution of marriage, the court may award support or maintenance without dissolving the marriage.

There are several factors the court must consider in determining whether to award alimony, the type of alimony, the amount of alimony and the length of time of alimony. The parties standard of living established during the marriage, length of the marriage, the age and condition of each party and the financial resources of each party are some of the most important factors to be considered.

Florida law has established rebutable presumptions regarding the length of a marriage. A short term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than seven (7) years; a moderate term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than seven (7) but less than seventeen (17) years; a long term marriage is a marriage having a duration of seventeen (17) years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing the petition for dissolution of marriage.

Bridge the Gap Alimony

Bridge the gap alimony is awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to single. Bridge the gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short term needs. The length of bridge the gap alimony may not exceed two (2) years.

Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to assist a party in helping the party to become self supporting by either redeveloping previous skills or credentials requiring education, training or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. Rehabilitative alimony requires a specific and defined rehabilitative plan.

Durational Alimony

Durational alimony is awarded when permanent alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a period to time following a marriage of short or moderate length. Durational alimony may not be awarded for time that exceeds the length of the marriage.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is awarded to provide the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet their needs and necessities of life, after divorce. Usually, permanent alimony is only awarded following a marriage of long duration but may be awarded following a marriage of moderate duration, if appropriate.

Except for bridge the gap alimony, alimony is modifiable in amount or duration based upon the showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. Permanent alimony may be modified or terminated based upon the showing of the existence of a supportive relationship. A supportive relationship is a relationship that exists between the party receiving alimony and a third person with whom the party receiving alimony resides. The party receiving alimony and the third person must not be related and must have conducted themselves in a manner that shows they have a permanent supportive relationship. If the court determines a permanent supportive relationship exists, the court may reduce or terminate alimony.

To request your in-person consultation at our Jacksonville Law Office, please call us today at (904) 346-3883.

The Dorsey Law Firm has practiced Family Law in Jacksonville for over 35 years.  Our firm has represented clients in front of nearly every judge in Duval, Clay, St. Johns, and Nassau Counties, and has tried cases throughout the entire State of Florida.

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