Legislators are considering whether it is time to end the availability of permanent alimony in Florida divorces. House Bill 943 was filed in late February; if passed, the bill would eliminate permanent alimony as well as allow alimony obligations to end upon the retirement of the obligor. Presently Florida is only one of a few states that allows permanent lifetime alimony awards that end only upon the death or remarriage of the recipient.
What is Alimony?
Alimony (sometimes referred to as spousal support) is a payment made by one spouse – the obligor – to the other spouse – the obligee – for the purposes of enabling the obligee to maintain a certain standard of living following a divorce. Usually an alimony award is only in effect for a limited time and is meant to give the obligee a “helping hand” while he or she reestablishes him- or herself. Permanent alimony – that is, a lifetime alimony award that only ends when the obligee remarries or dies – is currently available in certain limited circumstances.
In order for a Florida court to order alimony, there must be both a need for the alimony from the obligee as well as an ability to pay from the obligor. If both of these are present, the court may award alimony. Other than permanent alimony, a court can order:
- Temporary alimony, which lasts while the divorce is pending and ends automatically when the divorce is finalized.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony, which begins after the divorce is finalized but lasts only a maximum of two years. This type of alimony is meant to provide for the obligee’s living expenses while he or she completes a job retraining program or while the obligee sells the marital home (for instance).
- Rehabilitative alimony, which provides for the expenses of the obligee while he or she undergoes a retraining or education program so he or she can secure appropriate employment. When rehabilitative alimony is requested, the obligee must submit a plan outlining the money and time necessary to complete the plan.
- Durational alimony, is alimony that is awarded for a specific length of time and when other forms of alimony are not adequate. Durational alimony is not able to be awarded for a time period greater than the length of the marriage.
Have alimony questions? The Tampa divorce lawyers at All Family Law Group are here to help!
Regardless of whether you are the obligor or obligee, an alimony award (or no alimony award) can have serious ramifications on your family’s budget. It pays to have a knowledgeable Tampa divorce attorney review the facts of your case to determine if you are entitled to alimony and, if so, in what amount. If you are an obligor or are threatened with a demand for alimony, we can argue the facts of your case and help demonstrate to a court that no alimony award is appropriate. Contact our offices in Tampa Bay at 813-321-3421 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+