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What are the different categories of alimony that can be awarded?

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2024 | Divorce |

In Florida family law cases, people who are in the middle of a dispute over how much alimony will be paid might think that it is a simple matter of the court deciding what would be a fair resolution, determining how long it will last and issuing the order. However, it is more complicated than that and there are myriad factors that are involved not just in the amount but the duration as well.

The court can assess the case on its own merits, look at how long the couple was married, gauge the marital lifestyle, calculate the income and income potential of both sides and make its determination. In that context, there are categories of alimony under state law. The party who is being asked to pay and the one asking to receive alimony should be cognizant of the parameters of each.

Which type of alimony suits the case?

The court will have several choices when making the alimony order. They can use “bridge-the gap” alimony; “rehabilitative” alimony; or “durational” alimony. Each is based on the facts of the case, so it is essential that the sides provide evidence to justify their position.

Bridge-the-gap alimony is an apt description for people who are simply trying to adapt to their new circumstances and will not need to receive alimony for an extended period. They were accustomed to their financial, professional and personal life while they were married and need time to adapt to the new normal. This alimony award cannot go beyond two years.

Rehabilitative alimony gives the receiving party time to regain previous skills and get back into the job market so they will not need support from the former spouse. A person who has education and experience in the job market but needs time to brush up on their skills could be a suitable candidate for rehabilitative alimony. They might need to restart their education and training based on what they know how to do and the jobs available. This is structured in a specific way and must be planned accordingly. It cannot go beyond five years in duration.

As the name suggests, durational alimony will be for a predetermined amount of time. With durational alimony, it can be adjusted or stopped completely as the parties’ situations change. If one gets a job where they will no longer need to be supported, then it can stop. The marriage itself must have lasted for at least three years for durational alimony to be awarded.

With durational alimony, it hinges on how long the couple was married. The courts consider a short-term marriage to be one in which it did not last 10 years. A moderate-term marriage would be between 10 and 20 years. A long-term marriage is at least 20 years. This is important because the percentage of how long alimony lasts will be calculated based on how long they were married. Alimony for a marriage that lasted eight years cannot go beyond four years. A marriage of moderate duration would not require alimony for more than 60% of the marital duration. A long-term marriage would be up to 75%.

The court will also consider the job prospects and ability to work of the receiving party; their financial resources; if they have mental or physical issues that negatively impact their ability to self-support; or if they serve as a caregiver to a disabled child.

Alimony, its amount and duration can vary based on circumstances

As this shows, the alimony award is based on more than just income, assets and marital lifestyle. For people who are preparing for their divorce case and are concerned about how much they will need to pay or receive and its duration, it is imperative to understand these factors. Knowing how to prove their case is key.


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