If you’re getting a divorce for the first time, you will soon be familiarizing yourself with Florida’s divorce laws pertaining to alimony (what some states call spousal support or maintenance), property and debt division, child support, and child custody (where applicable). If you’re like most spouses, you may be wondering if alimony is guaranteed in all Florida divorces.
For starters, alimony refers to money paid by a higher-earning spouse to a lower-earning spouse during or after the divorce process. In Florida, it is typical for the family courts to order the higher earner, whether it’s the husband or wife, to financially assist the lower-earning spouse for at least some time after the divorce to help them maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
Is There a Need for Alimony?
Even though it is common for courts to award alimony in Florida divorces, alimony is not automatic, meaning it is not guaranteed. If a lower-earning spouses requests alimony and their husband or wife don’t want to pay it, the court will have to decide on the matter.
Before the court can issue a decision, it will examine a number of factors, including the lower-earning spouse’s need for alimony, and the higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay it – these two factors are critical. For example, if a wife was a stay-at-home mother for five years, she may argue that she needs alimony.
In that case, the court would examine the husband’s ability to pay it. But the course would also want to know: What is the wife’s education level? What is her earning capacity? How old are her children? Would she have difficulty re-entering the workforce?
A woman with a high school education would have a more difficult time finding a good-paying job than a woman with a bachelor’s degree in a high-paying field. Some of the factors a judge would consider before rendering a decision, include:
- The age and health of both spouses,
- Each spouse’s earning capacity,
- Each spouse’s income and assets,
- Each spouse’s educational background,
- The length of the marriage,
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including being a stay-at-home parent or homemaker, or paying for the other’s education,
- The spouses’ individual responsibilities to care for their children, and
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
Even though Florida is a no-fault divorce state, it is one of the states that will consider whether either spouse committed adultery in the marriage, and under what circumstances the infidelity occurred. The Florida courts are particularly interested if a spouse spent marital funds on the adulterous relationship; for example, a cheating husband who buys his girlfriend plastic surgery or pays for her apartment with marital funds.
To learn more about alimony in a Florida divorce, please contact Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC at (561) 336-6082.