Alimony remains a hot topic in Florida divorce law. Florida law currently offers divorcing couples a smorgasbord of alimony possibilities, so long as one spouse can prove both a need for alimony and the other spouse’s ability to pay alimony. Currently on the legal menu are temporary alimony, bridge the gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony and permanent alimony.
First, what exactly is alimony? The word originates from a Latin word, alimonia, meaning nutriment or nourishment. The English derivative word denotes the support and sustenance of a man’s wife after divorce. Under modern Florida family law, alimony is usually a money payment made on a regular, often monthly basis, by a more financially capable spouse or former spouse to a spouse or former spouse in need of such financial support to maintain the martial lifestyle.
Temporary alimony may be awarded during the divorce process but ends as soon as the divorce is completed. The final divorce judgment will decide what — if any — type of alimony is awarded post-divorce.
Bridge the gap alimony is awarded to help a financially disadvantaged former spouse with short-term financial needs immediately following the divorce, like moving to a new residence. It can be awarded for no more than two years, and can’t be modified.
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded only when a financially disadvantaged spouse presents the court with a written plan for further education or retraining that will result in greater or complete financial self-sufficiency when completed. The rehabilitative alimony ends when the plan is completed or when the spouse fails to complete the plan in a timely fashion.
Durational alimony is a newer form of alimony that permits the duration of the alimony payments to extend no longer than the duration of the marriage.
Permanent alimony awards are granted for the lifetime of the recipient spouse. Both durational and permanent alimony awards are subject to later modification under certain circumstances.
Alimony is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce, particularly if the marriage is a long-term marriage. Consult with an experienced family law attorney if alimony is an issue in your divorce or you believe an alimony award should be modified.