The first thought that ring in most people’s minds after hearing divorce is alimony. An alimony award refers to the financial support given to an ex-spouse until he or she can fend for her or himself. Sometimes, the Florida Law refers it to maintenance.
After a divorce, you may ask yourself numerous questions like how much spousal support can I get? How long do you have to pay alimony? What is the average alimony will you pay? Below we have created a guide to help you through the process of Florida spousal support.
Understanding and Calculating the Florida Alimony
Alimony is a legal requirement by one partner to grant financial support to his or her estranged spouse after a legal divorce or separation. An alimony award aims at compensating the unwarranted economic consequences to one spouse following a divorce.
Judges usually consider numerous factors when determining the alimony payments. The court decides on the alimony by considering things like the marital standards of living, age and general health of each spouse. Additionally, the duration of the marriage, the sum of each partners’ assets, and the role of each spouse to the marriage, and tax penalties plays a huge role.
Is the alimony award appropriate?
Before a court order for alimony, it has to be the most appropriate choice. Most people believe that women always fall on the receiving end. However, this is no longer the case. With women becoming primary breadwinners of almost a third of families, they now pay for child support and alimony. You also need to understand that alimony award is different from child support or pet support.
Types of Alimony Available in Florida
A judge of the Florida alimony court awards pendente lite (temporary alimony) when one spouse or both decide to divorce in court, but the separation process is not yet complete. It allows a spouse to adjust to the new life after the separation while the divorce process takes place.
When the divorce ruling is final, temporary alimony stops. If the obligated spouse fails to pay the temporary alimony, the divorce courts can order the delayed payments to be paid out. It may also waive them.
During the Florida alimony calculation, the court considers numerous factors. For instance, when determining the living standards and daily expenditures of each spouse, the court will consider basic needs such as food and clothing.
The rehabilitative Florida alimony requires the underemployed spouse to develop a plan for the support. It requires the spouse to include the living and education expenses if any.
If it takes longer than anticipated, the divorce court could extend the payment time for the alimony payments. If the receiving spouse does not commit to improving his/her lifestyle by engaging in active employment, the court may allow the other spouse to stop paying the alimony.
A new law entered into force July 1st, 2010 regarding the Florida alimony calculation. The revised ruling was created to award a divorced partner where the stable periodic alimony is unsuitable. It offers alimony to grant financial aid for a specific duration of time following a divorce.
Permanent periodic alimony could be awarded to cater to the necessities created by the lifestyle standards of the marriage, permanently. This alimony lasts until one of the spouses dies, or the beneficiary spouse remarries again.
How is alimony determined?
A family law judge has the mandate of determining who receives alimony. The decision on who will get the alimony payments lies on the state laws and several factors such as the marital standards of living, the duration of the marriage, child support, who was at fault at the time of the divorce among others.
Factors determining the calculation of alimony
Divorce attorneys in Florida can help you get regular alimony payments. This aims at ensuring that your living standards do not worsen following a divorce. When determining how much alimony is suitable, the court considers several factors:
The length of the marriage
Regarding the duration of marriage in an alimony court in Florida, the rebuttable assumption may indicate:
- A short-term marriage below seven years
- A medium-term marriage between 7- 17 years
- A long-term marriage of 17 years or more
Alimony guarantees that the financially weaker partner remains protected in the event of a divorce. If the dependent spouse needs time to look for employment options, then financial support may be necessary.
The judges usually analyze the income of both partners and compare it with the lifestyle they adopted in their marriage. The dependent spouse is, in most cases, awarded alimony that will help them maintain the same lifestyle as their marriage.
Domestic violence case
In a case of domestic dispute, the court usually awards temporary alimony for the dependent spouse.
Future inheritance cannot affect the awarding of the alimony. Wills and assets beneficiaries may change, so the court rules based on the financial situation of the spouses at the time of divorce.
Alimony takes care of the children’s responsibilities and their overall well-being. Each spouse is obligated to care for the children either through maintenance and home-care support. A high child support payments will lead to a reduction in the alimony payments.
Alimony is usually awarded to the unemployed spouse until they get a source of income. However, the estranged spouse has to show commitment in trying to get a job to sustain them.
Age of spouse
The age of each spouse tends to affect the amount of alimony awarded in the alimony court. The average alimony payments tend to the increase with the increase in the age of each spouse.
Marital standard of living
Before calculating the alimony, first, the judges look at the kind of lifestyle the divorcing partners lived.
The judge awards alimony only when there is evidence of a divorce or separation.
Divorce Alimony Rules
After filing a divorce in court, the judges usually start by calculating the duration of the marriage. The judges then calculate the period from the actual date that you signed your marriage certificate, to the date you filed a divorce complaint. The good thing (or bad) about alimony divorce cases is that the judge cannot grant alimony payments longer than the duration of the marriage.
If your marriage lasted ten years, for example, you’ll only get payments for the ten years. The state of Florida uses the alimony calculator to determine the number of payouts that the divorced spouse will receive.
The court can grant temporary alimony until the divorce hearing ends, then the court may decide to award a final alimony sum. An alimony calculator factors in the duration of the marriage. The divorce court can award alimony payment based on a short-term marriage, a mid-level term (greater than seven years but not more than 17 years), and a long-term marriage.
Permanent alimony favors long-duration unions if the statutory criterion fits. Durational alimony mainly awards short or moderate unions for a particular length of time.
Modification or Termination of Alimony
The alimony payments can last for an indefinite period; however, if it happens to be finite, then alimony payments may stop when:
- The period set for the cessation of alimony payments expires.
- The dependent spouse enters into a domestic partnership or remarries.
- Whenever the children become grown-ups, and no longer need a parent at home.
- Whenever the judge determines that the spouse receiving alimony does not make enough effort to become self-supporting.
- Whenever one party dies.
On the other hand, the judge may order modification of the alimony when:
- The obligor spouse retires.
- When the supporting spouse becomes ill.
- When there is a significant fall in the income of the supporting spouse.
How long do you have to pay alimony?
The period you will pay your alimony depends on the Florida State Laws as well as several other factors. For instance, if your marriage lasted for seventeen years, a permanent alimony may be appropriate, but if it was less than 17 years, then awarding a permanent alimony is less likely.
However, even with less than 17 years of marriage, a permanent alimony may be appropriate if the reasons given are convincing.
What are the tax effects of alimony?
After the judge rules in favor of the alimony, both the dependent and the supporting spouse will have to consider the tax consequences that may relate to their situation. The tax levied on the alimony depends whether the alimony payments are on a weekly or monthly basis.
For instance, if an alimony court orders payment of $20,000 in alimony in a single payout, the payment will not be taxable. However, if the judges rule in favor of a monthly alimony of $500, then this figure will be subject to taxation.
If spouses decide to go for alimony as part of their divorce, they will need to, therefore, consult a tax or financial advisor.
A Qualified Florida Family Lawyer Can Help
If you think your alimony case may turn out to be an issue in your Florida divorce case, consulting an experienced Florida Family Lawyer is crucial. The attorney may help present your case and demonstrate that there is the ability to pay alimony in your situation.
Conversely, if your spouse requests alimony, your attorney will present some of the statutory factors that are available to you. These factors may lead lower alimony or no alimony for your case.
Get accurate calculation of alimony using our free alimony calculator
Our alimony calculator takes into consideration all the factors that Florida State Laws deem necessary when calculating spousal support. Therefore, you can be sure that our free alimony calculator will give you the accurate amount that you will need to pay as alimony. Get in touch with us today or visit our website to use our free alimony calculator.