Two generations ago, it was taken for granted that a woman would likely stay home with her children while a man worked outside the home to support the family. When parents divorced, though, this arrangement could leave women impoverished and destitute. Alimony endeavored to bridge that gap by compensating women for their work inside of the home and enabling them to get back on their feet. Today, alimony is much less common than it was a generation ago, and anyone – male or female – can seek spousal support.
How is Alimony determined?
In Florida alimony or spousal support is determined by a myriad of factors. Though alimony was once associated with women, both men and women are eligible for spousal support. In colloquial use, “palimony” refers to alimony paid to men. Practically speaking, though, there’s no legal difference between alimony for men and women; courts refer to both as spousal support.
Alimony is not automatic. Indeed, it’s increasingly harder to get. Courts will take into account myriad factors when determining whether you’re eligible for alimony. Those factors include:
- Your spouse’s income and ability to pay.
- Your income and assets, as well as your future earning power.
- Your role in the marriage. For instance, did you give up a lucrative career to raise kids, or work full-time while your spouse attended law school?
- The length of your marriage. Short marriages are unlikely to result in alimony awards, especially not large awards.
- Whether you and your spouse have an express or implied agreement to share property, divvy up your labor, or support one another as you pursue career or family goals.
Ultimately, it will come down to a question of whether you provided something valuable to the marriage and your spouse can afford to compensate you for that.
The 5 Types of Alimony
Bridge the Gap Alimony
“Bridge the gap” alimony is a short-term alimony award that begins after the divorce is final. It is designed to aid in the financial difficulties involved with transitioning from married to single life. This form of alimony should only be ordered when the receiving party has specific short term financial needs, and usually should not continue for longer than two years. Bridge the gap alimony is typically found in short term marriages where rehabilitative alimony is not justified. Like rehabilitative alimony, it may be combined with a permanent alimony award. Bridge the gap alimony should not be modified in amount or duration and will cease upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving party.
Temporary alimony is alimony which supports you only during the pendency of the divorce.
Rehabilitative alimony is an alimony award given in order to provide the receiving spouse with assistance during the time needed to attain novel skills to improve employment potential. Rehabilitative alimony awards can be ordered alone or in a combination with a permanent alimony plan. Rehabilitative alimony will only be given if factual evidence is presented to the court showing the receiving spouse has lost or damaged his/her ability to self support during the marriage, and has a detailed rehabilitation plan. A spouse simply desiring to further his/her education is generally not grounds for rehabilitative alimony. If there is evidence that the marriage did not hinder the receiving spouse’s ability to provide for his/herself then rehabilitative alimony is not justified. Rehabilitative alimony is not necessarily given on the grounds that the receiving spouse will become entirely self sufficient. A spouse may be awarded rehabilitative alimony in order to become as self-supporting as possible, but still may need permanent alimony. The additional alimony payments will be reduced to the extent that the receiving spouse can provide for his/herself.
This is a supplemental form of alimony a court can award at its discretion if other forms of alimony are not allowed or are inadequate. The maximum amount of time for which you can receive this alimony is the length of your marriage. In other words, if you were married five years, this alimony is limited to five years.
Permanent Alimony is the rarest type of alimony in Florida and is awarded only if it appears that your economic need will be permanent. The judge generally has to cite a specific reason for awarding such alimony.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of commonly asked questions that our West Palm Beach Family Law Attorneys receive about whether a client can receive alimony or be required to pay alimony. Clicking each question listed below will provide you with a detailed answer.