Alimony is one of the most contentious, as well one of the most important, aspects of any divorce. When determining the duration and the form of alimony, the courts consider a marriage of 0-7 years to be “short term”, 7-17 years to be “mid-term” and 17 years + to be long term. There are several different types of alimony including, but not limited to:
Temporary Alimony is typically paid by the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse during the duration of the divorce proceeding. Temporary alimony will terminate after the signing of a settlement agreement or the entry of a final judgment;
Bridge the Gap Alimony:
Bridge the Gap Alimony is short in duration. This form of alimony is meant to assist the lower earning spouse “bridge the gap” from married life to single life. Bridge the gap may apply in a situation where the marriage is short term in duration, and a person may have been working part time during the marriage, and needs to find a job working full-time now that the marriage has ended;
Lump Sum Alimony:
Lump Sum Alimony is an alimony payment with a set amount. This amount may be paid over a specific duration, or in one lump sum. Either way, this amount must be paid and is non-modifiable;
Rehabilitative Alimony is alimony that is paid to a party who may have been out of the work force for a period of time, or needs a certain level of education to get back into the work force. This alimony will be used to help educate this individual and pay their expenses while they obtain this education, and until they secure a job. Rehabilitative alimony may apply in a shorter term marriage, or in a case where it is clear that a little assistance in a shorter period of time will help this individual become self-supporting;
Durational alimony is typically reserved for cases where the marriage is mid-term in duration. This form of alimony is extremely unpredictable. A judge may select any duration they deem appropriate that does not exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent Periodic Alimony:
Although the legislature has tried to abolish permanent alimony, it is still alive and well in the state of Florida. Permanent periodic alimony is just what it sounds like: alimony that lasts forever. Permanent alimony is generally reserved for long term marriages, however, if they are extenuating circumstances, such as health issues, permanent alimony may apply to shorter term marriages. Keep in mind, however, permanent alimony may not be forever, as the state of Florida recognizes that a person may retire at 65, therefore, the paying spouse may be entitled to a reduction in their permanent alimony obligation or termination.
Alimony remains a gray area in most divorce proceedings, which is why this issue is so contentious. The Florida Legislature has tried to make changes to the alimony laws, including utilizing a calculation to take the guess work out of the process, but as of today those amendments have not been approved. It is critical to consult with an attorney as to how the alimony laws impact you, and how they may change in the future. Without proper representation, anyone runs the risk of paying too much or receiving too little, which may impact you and your children for years to come.