Law Office of Steven R. Brenners

What Is The Difference Between Spousal Support And Alimony In Florida?

There is really no difference between spousal support and alimony, and the terms are used interchangeably in Florida law.

Which Party Generally Has To Pay Alimony Or Spousal Support In A Divorce?

Spousal support or alimony is determined by one party’s need for support and the other party’s ability to pay support. It is also determined by other factors that are described in the statute, including the length of marriage, and the contributions that each party has made to the marriage. Spousal support will only be awarded or agreed to when one party has the ability to pay support and the other party needs the support. This situation will involve a spouse who has a substantially higher income than the other spouse, and is therefore able to help support them.

Is There A Certain Number Of Years The Couple Has To Be Married For Alimony To Be Warranted?

Florida law considers the length of a marriage to be one factor in the determination of alimony. It is important to note that the alimony laws in Florida are in a state of flux right now, and they will soon change. So, this entire discussion is based on the laws as they currently exist. The Florida statute states that a marriage lasting 17 years or more is considered to be long-term. If a marriage lasts more than 17 years and one spouse is entitled to alimony, they may be able to get permanent alimony.

We categorize our marriages as being short-term, mid-term, or long-term. The length of a marriage is not determinative of whether or not the impecunious spouse would receive alimony. Rather, it is determinative of the length of time that they would receive alimony.

When Does Spousal Support Or Alimony Actually Begin In A Divorce?

Everything in Florida Law is based upon the filing of a petition which starts the divorce action. Once this is done, alimony can and should be awarded on a temporary basis during the pendency of divorce litigation. This is referred to as Pendente Lite in Latin, which just means pending litigation. So, a spouse can get alimony during and after divorce litigation for the term of that alimony.

How Is The Amount Of Alimony Or Spousal Support Actually Determined?

The main factor in determining alimony is one party’s ability to pay spousal support versus the other party’s need for spousal support. Other factors set forth in the Florida statute include the contributions each party made to acquiring the marital estate, contributions one party has made to enhancing the other party’s profession or ability to earn income, the contributions one spouse or the other would have made to raising children and running the family, and the cost of that particular person neglecting his or her own ability to earn income. The length of the marriage, as well as the amount and value of the assets that either party will take from the marital estate will also be considered in the determination of alimony. For example, if one party walks out with substantial cash or investments, their need for alimony may be lowered. So, in order to make a determination, we look at the overarching factor of need versus ability to pay, and fine-tune this decision by looking at the other factors prescribed in the statute.

What Are The Top Misconceptions Regarding Alimony Or Spousal Support? If My Spouse Committed Adultery, Does That Have Any Effect On The Alimony Or Spousal Support?

Generally speaking, the courts don’t want to hear about adultery. If for example, a husband committed adultery, it should have no effect on his liability to pay alimony to the wife. However, if as a result of that adultery he dissipated some of the assets (via expensive trips or gifts), then those funds can be recalculated into the marital estate to the extent that the assets were dissipated. So, if the husband purchases his girlfriend a $50,000 automobile as a gift, it should have no effect on need or ability to pay alimony, but it would have an effect on the distribution of assets. As a result, the court would put that $50,000 back into the estate before it is split up.

For more information on Alimony & Spousal Support In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (954) 755-0126 today.

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