Alimony has been a popular topic for Florida’s legislature over the last few sessions. Hardly a session expires without alimony and alimony reform being the subject of extensive comment by various legislators. And yet no comprehensive reform legislation has attractive enough votes to pass muster in either the house or senate. The subject will no doubt be on the agenda for 2021, but no one can predict what will happen. In the meantime, a review of the current status of spousal support, as it is sometimes called, may useful.
Florida statutes use the term “alimony” to refer to support payments from one spouse to another. The current statute recognizes four type of alimony: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent. The court may combine different types of alimony and may also consider the adultery of one or both parties in deciding whether to award support.
Factors in determining alimony
The court is directed to consider “all relevant factors,” including but not limited to the following:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
- The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
- The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
- All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
The court’s role in alimony determination
The court has significant discretion in deciding whether to award alimony and in setting the amount and payment intervals. The wide discretion vested in the court makes any prediction on an award of alimony very uncertain.
Anyone who is contemplating seeking a divorce and who is concerned about an award of alimony may wish to consult an experienced family law attorney for an evaluation of the couple’s circumstances and how the factors enumerated above may affect the court’s decision.