Questions about alimony are often a major concern for those preparing for divorce in Florida. Someone who has long been the primary wage earner for their family may worry that alimony will negatively affect their standard of living after a divorce.
Florida has recently revised its alimony laws, effectively eliminating permanent alimony and prioritizing rehabilitative and bridge-the-gap alimony instead. A person newly ordered to pay alimony can expect that the duration of those payments will reflect factors including the length of the marriage and the ability of a dependent spouse to begin supporting themselves, accordingly.
Ability and need determine alimony payments
Occasionally, spouses reach an agreement with one another where they set their own terms for alimony payments. Spouses pursuing an uncontested divorce can agree to alimony that lasts however long they feel is appropriate and in whatever amounts both feel would be reasonable. Otherwise, it will be up to a judge to review the financial details of the family to establish how much one spouse pays the other in alimony.
Factors including the need of the spouse receiving the payments and the ability of the spouse making the payments to afford them will be a consideration. State law also outlines limits for alimony based on the duration of the marriage. Those who remain married for less than 11 years usually only pay at most 25% of their gross income. For marriages that last between 11 and 20 years, the maximum amount of alimony would be 35% of their gross income. Longer-term marriages could lead to one spouse paying as much as 38% of their income to the other.
Judges consider numerous factors when deciding how much alimony is appropriate, including whatever amount of income the spouse receiving the payments can earn or would be able to earn if they more assertively pursued their career. Sometimes, alimony payments will end ahead of schedule if the person paying has a drastic change in economic circumstances or if the recipient changes their situation by obtaining a better job or starting a new romantic relationship that provides them with financial support.
Learning the basics of how Florida establishes alimony can make a significant difference for those preparing for divorce. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to begin.