Every state decides how to treat the issue of alimony after a divorce. Under Florida law, there are four types of alimony:
Bridge-the-gap alimony helps the receiving spouse transition from married to single life by providing for short-term needs such as money for food and rent. Bridge-the-gap alimony cannot last for more than two years, automatically terminates when either spouse dies or the receiving spouse gets remarried, and cannot be modified.
Rehabilitative alimony helps the receiving spouse become self-sufficient by acquiring additional education, training or skills necessary to reenter the workforce. The receiving spouse is required to develop and comply with a rehabilitative plan. Rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances, if the receiving spouse fails to follow the rehabilitative plan, or when the receiving spouse completes the rehabilitative plan.
Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. Durational alimony lasts for a set period of time (not exceeding the length of the marriage), and follows a short-term (less than seven years), moderate-term (seven to 17 years), or long-term (17 years or more) marriage if permanent alimony is unnecessary. Durational alimony terminates upon either spouse’s death or the receiving spouse’s remarriage. Durational alimony may be modified or terminated based on a substantial change in circumstances.
Permanent alimony helps the receiving spouse maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage when the spouse is unable to achieve that standard on his/her own and no other form of alimony meets the spouse’s needs. Permanent alimony may be appropriate following a long-term or moderate-term marriage based on the circumstances. However, the spouse requesting permanent alimony has a higher burden of proof in a moderate-term marriage. Permanent alimony is only appropriate following a short-term marriage in exceptional circumstances. Permanent alimony ends when either spouse dies or when the receiving spouse gets remarried. It can be modified or terminated based on a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of the receiving spouse being in a supportive relationship.
Before awarding any form of alimony, the court first determines if the receiving spouse actually needs alimony and whether the paying spouse has the ability to pay. The court considers the circumstances of the marriage such as the standard of living, the length of the marriage, the spouses’ finances, and the spouses’ education and job skills, etc., to determine the type and amount of alimony that is appropriate.
It is important to consult a Florida divorce lawyer knowledgeable about the state’s alimony laws if you plan to include it as part of your divorce.