Alimony is one of the most commonly misunderstood concepts in Florida divorce law. Other common terms for alimony include spousal maintenance and spousal support. Basically, “alimony” refers to payments made by one spouse to the other during a legal separation or after a divorce. In Florida, courts have the option of ordering one of four different kinds of alimony, as follows:
The different types of alimony awards in Florida meet different needs. Because each divorce is different, what may be ordered in one case may not be ordered in another.
As you might imagine, “bridge the gap” alimony helps one party transition from being part of a married couple to living life as a single person. Bridge the gap alimony provides financial transition assistance for short termneeds. For example, imagine the parties owe $5,497.32 on a car loan. Imagine further they own another car outright. Bridge the gap alimony may be ordered so the spouse who keeps the car with the loan on it has the money to pay off the car loan. Unlike some other types of alimony, bridge the gap alimony cannot be extended or modified once it has been ordered.
Rehabilitative alimony is designed to put a spouse in a position to support themselves. Rehabilitative alimony requires a clearly delineated plan detailing how the alimony will assist one in becoming able to support oneself. It may be used to redevelop previous skills, or to obtain new skills with an eye towards future employment. For example, the court may order one spouse to pay some or all of the tuition of the other spouse, should the plan include getting a degree. Typically, rehabilitative alimony is ordered consistent with the plan, for a certain number of years. If the party receiving alimony meets the goal early, such as graduating early, the alimony may end early. Similarly, if the goal of graduation is delayed for a good reason, such as caring for a sick child, rehabilitative alimony can be extended.
In some cases, a party has neither the skills nor the resources to maintain a lifestyle consistent with that “established during the marriage.” Depending on the circumstances, courts may award permanent alimony to meet a party’s needs. Courts are bound by statutes, however, and can’t award permanent alimony in just any case. The length of the marriage, for example, is one of many things a court must consider when determining if permanent alimony is appropriate.
In some cases, there is no need for permanent alimony, but a party needs economic assistance for a period of time. In that case, durational alimony may be appropriate. Durational alimony is limited in time and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
If you are thinking about divorce, you need an experienced family law attorney on your side. One of the most common myths about alimony is only women qualify for alimony. This is not true. Either spouse may qualify for alimony. Whether you are in need of alimony, or fear you may be required to pay alimony to your soon to be ex-spouse, you need an advocate fighting for you. At the Estevez-Pazos Law Firm, our team works with you to find the best solutions for you and your family. Contact us today at (305) 717-7130.