Area of Law:
In the event of a divorce, if either spouse does not have a separate estate, or if a spouse's assets are not sufficient to offer a means of support, a judge might order alimony, which is also known as spousal support. Alimony is usually a monthly financial allowance paid by one spouse to another. The purpose of alimony is to offset any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing a continuing income to the non-wage earning or lower-wage earning spouse. In Florida, courts order alimony when it is “well-founded.”
To be eligible for alimony, spouses in all states, including Florida, must have been legally married. Alimony is usually based on a settlement agreement made between the spouses or the discretion of a judge. Alimony awards in Florida may be withheld from the payer spouse’s paycheck or it can be ordered to be paid through the Florida Support Enforcement office, which will distribute it to the recipient spouse. Recipient spouses can also return to court to force payment through a contempt action.
There are three types of alimony available in Florida: lump-sum, rehabilitative, and permanent. Lump sum alimony is calculated by the court and is usually made in one payment. Rehabilitative is the most commonly awarded alimony, and it may include payments for the education necessary for the recipient spouse to become self-sufficient. It is usually ordered for a specific amount of time. Permanent alimony is paid regularly for an indefinite period of time or until the payee petitions the court to modify or discontinue the payments. The petitioner must show a change in circumstances for the alimony award to be modified. Florida courts also have the authority to order temporary alimony while the divorce is pending.
In most states, remarriage of the recipient spouse will terminate alimony, but termination upon the payer's death is not necessarily automatic. In cases in which the recipient spouse is unlikely to obtain gainful employment because of age or health considerations, the court may order that further support be provided from the payer's estate or life insurance proceeds.
According to lawyers.com, the type and amount of alimony awarded by Florida courts depends on the following factors:
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The duration of the marriage
- The age and physical and emotional condition of each party
- The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and marital assets and liability of each
- The time necessary for either party to finish education or training to find appropriate employment
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party
- All sources of income available to either party
In the United States, alimony is treated differently tax wise from child support payments. In Florida, alimony is deductible for the person who pays it and taxable income for the person who receives it under the rules of the Internal Revenue Service, while child support is not.