Florida Women's Law Group
Alimony After A Long-Term MarriageAuthor: Florida Women's Law Group
Date: Jun 14 2021
Alimony After a Long-Term Marriage
Alimony is defined as financial support that the higher-earning spouse must legally provide to the other spouse during the divorce proceedings or once it has been finalized. The intention is to allow the lower-earning spouse the ability to maintain the same standard of living as they experienced in the marriage.
Florida is one of the few states that award permanent alimony in a divorce. In most cases, permanent alimony is awarded after a long-term marriage, which is considered over 17 years. The alimony is to provide the receiving spouse the funds to maintain the cost of living that was established in the marriage.
Who is Awarded Permanent Alimony?
As stated above, permanent alimony is predominantly awarded for long-term marriages but in some cases, it can be awarded in marriages that were less than 17 years. To receive lifetime alimony, the receiving spouse must prove their inability to provide for themselves or become self-sustaining. This can be due to a disability or if the spouse has been out of the workforce for a significant period of time and lacks the financial ability to maintain their needs and necessities similar to those from the marriage. The judge in the case will look carefully at the employment history, income, employability and expenses of each spouse to determine needs.
Factors to Determine Alimony
In awarding permanent alimony, a judge considers several factors to determine if it is necessary and if so, the appropriate amount. Factors for permanent alimony are:
- Length of the marriage
- Standard of living established in the marriage
- Age of each spouse
- Each spouse’s education, earning ability and employability
- Financial resources available to each spouse
- How long requesting spouse has been out of workforce
- Mental and physical health of each spouse
- The contributions by each spouse to the marriage including childcare, career support and taking care of the home and family
Terminating or Modifying Permanent Alimony
Permanent alimony is terminated upon the death of either spouse or if the receiving spouse remarries. It can, in some cases, be terminated if the receiving spouse enters a supportive relationship. This is defined as cohabitating with another person and assets are comingled. This also includes significant financial support by a new person.
Modifications to permanent alimony can be made if there is a significant change in circumstances by either spouse. If the receiving spouse gets an inheritance, a large financial gift, settlement or a pay raise then there can be a modification. For the spouse that is paying alimony if they retire, experience long-term unemployment or there is a decrease in earning ability due to unforeseen circumstances then there may be grounds for a modification.
Over the years, there have been attempts for alimony reform in Florida legislation. In April 2021, a bill was presented by a Florida State Senator that would eliminate permanent alimony and restrict it to no longer than half the length of the marriage. However, it was shelved when it became apparent that the bill would not pass the Senate Rules Committee. Despite it being removed for consideration it will likely show up again next year.
Alimony can be complicated, do not try to navigate these complex waters alone. Trust the experienced team of attorneys at Florida Women’s Law Group who are educated on the ever-changing laws in our state and are here to get you what you deserve. We are committed to providing you a positive experience all while seamlessly handling the meticulous details.