Alimony, simply stated, is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to another following a divorce. Not all Florida spouses are entitled to alimony and solely, or even just because, a spouse is a woman does not necessarily entitle that spouse to alimony. Alimony is intend to provide financial support for a spouse, regardless of gender, whose earning capability or financial wealth is substantially inferior to the other spouse.
As of today, there are several forms of alimony available to a Boca Raton couple going through a divorce. There is temporary alimony that is paid while the divorce is pending, durational alimony, lump sum alimony, bridge the gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony and permanent periodic alimony. Each form of alimony is designed to serve a particular purpose specific to the divorcing couple. There is, however, a trend around the country to enact legislation designed to reform alimony laws. Most alimony laws that have been reformed eliminate permanent alimony and create a one size fits all formula to calculate a floor and a ceiling for the amount of alimony and the length of alimony. These laws restrict the discretion of the trial judge and impose severe limits on the amount of alimony a spouse will pay and for how long. It is anticipated that Florida will pass an alimony reform law sooner than later.
In awarding alimony, the judge will consider a laundry list of factors when determining the form, amount and duration of alimony. The judge will listen to evidence concerning
- the financial resources of the spouse seeking maintenance, including separate property and any award of marital property
- all sources of income, including investment income, available to either spouse
- each spouse’s earning capacity, educational history, vocational skills, and employability
- any time and expense required by the spouse seeking maintenance to obtain education and training for appropriate employment
- the marital standard of living
- the length of the marriage
- each spouse’s age and physical and emotional condition
- each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including homemaking, child care, education, and helping the other spouse build a career
- any tax consequences of the alimony award, and
- the responsibilities each spouse will have for any minor children they have in common.
Florida is a no-fault state which means divorcing spouses do not need to prove grounds for a divorce other than there are irreconcilable differences. However, a judge may considered whether either spouse committed adultery when awarding alimony if the affair caused the other spouse emotional distress such that the spouse’s ability to earn income has been impaired.