What type of alimony would I be entitled to?
Depending upon the length of the marriage and the specific factors outlined in §61.14, alimony may be available upon divorce. Short-term marriages are generally those that lasted less than seven years, moderate-term marriages are those that last between seven and seventeen years, while long-term marriages are those that lasted longer than seventeen years. In addition to considering the length of the marriage, courts will consider the following factors:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
- The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
- The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
- All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
After considering these factors, a court may award any of four types of alimony.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony is generally used to “bridge-the-gap” and ease the transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is a short-term payment, for no longer than two years. 61.08(5) Fla. Stat. (2005).
- Rehabilitative Alimony is meant to assist the recipient in becoming self-supporting. These payments are used to assist with the acquisition of education, training or work experience necessary to gain employment. 61.08(6) Fla. Stat. (2005). The parties agree to a “rehabilitative plan,” which will include the cost and time necessary for education or training.
- Durational Alimony is available when Permanent Alimony is not appropriate, generally when the marriage is a short or moderate-term marriage. 61.08(7) Fla. Stat. (2005).
- Permanent Alimony is meant to cover the recipient’s needs and necessities of life as established during the marriage. Permanent payments are generally only awarded for a party who lacks the ability to support themselves financially after a long-term marriage. 61.08(8) Fla. Stat. (2005).
Can I modify my alimony payment?
Depending on the type of alimony that has been awarded or agreed upon in your situation, there may be ways to amend or terminate your payments. Florida law does not allow for the modification of bridge-the-gap alimony. 61.08(5) Fla. Stat. (2005). Rehabilitative alimony payments may be modified because of a substantial change in circumstances, noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon the completion of a rehabilitation plan. 61.08(6) Fla. Stat. (2005). Durational Alimony may be modified or terminated based on a substantial change in circumstance. The length of the award however, may not be modified unless there are exceptional circumstances. 61.08(7) Fla. Stat. (2005) Permanent Alimony may be modified or terminated based on a substantial change in circumstance or upon the existence of a “supportive relationship.” 61.08(8) Fla. Stat. (2005)
My former spouse has been living with a significant other for some time, but they have not gotten married because it would end their alimony payments, is there anything I can do?
In some cases, yes, there may be something you can do. Florida has adopted laws regarding “supportive relationships,” which are relationships that have taken the financial place of a marriage. These cases are extremely fact specific. Courts will generally consider the following factors in determining if there is a “supportive relationship” that could merit a reduction in alimony:
- The extent to which the Recipient and the other person have held themselves out as a married couple by engaging in conduct such as using the same last name, using a common mailing address, referring to each other in terms such as “my husband” or “my wife,” or otherwise conducting themselves in a manner that evidences a permanent supportive relationship The period of time that the Recipient has resided with the other person in a permanent place of abode.
- The extent to which the Recipient and the other person have pooled their assets or income or otherwise exhibited financial interdependence.
- The extent to which the Recipient or the other person has supported the other, in whole or in part.
- The extent to which the Recipient or the other person has performed valuable services for the other.
- The extent to which the Recipient or the other person has performed valuable services for the other’s company or employer.
- Whether the Recipient and the other person have worked together to create or enhance anything of value.
- Whether the Recipient and the other person have jointly contributed to the purchase of any real or personal property.
- Evidence in support of a claim that the Recipient and the other person have an express agreement regarding property sharing or support.
- Evidence in support of a claim that the Recipient and the other person have an implied agreement regarding property sharing or support.
- Whether the Recipient and the other person have provided support to the children of one another, regardless of any legal duty to do so.
After weighing these factors and considering the specific facts of each case, it is possible that a court may order alimony payments be reduced.
What if I am forced into a lower paying job or I become unemployed?
Courts will generally not allow voluntary changes in employment status or pay grade to justify the modification of alimony payments. However, where employment status of the individual paying alimony has unexpectedly changed, it is possible that alimony may be amended. To justify an amendment in alimony payment, the change generally must be an involuntary, material and permanent change in circumstance – that was unanticipated at the time of the agreement or divorce – the amount of alimony may be subject to change. §61.14(1)(a).
What happens if I want to return to school?
Education is one example of a voluntary change in circumstance that may be accepted by the courts. Generally, going back to school has been regarded as a good faith effort to improve one’s financial prospects. Courts have permitted the reduction of alimony payments during the individual’s schooling period.
How will my upcoming retirement affect my alimony payment?
Retirement may also be a voluntary action that could give reason for a reduction in alimony obligations. Courts will look at all of the facts of the underlying retirement to determine if it was reasonable under the circumstances. According to the Florida Supreme Court, a court “must consider the payor’s age, health, and motivation for retirement, as well as the type of work the payor performs and the age at which others engaged in that line of work normally retire.” Pimm v. Pimm, 601 So. 2d 534 (Fla. 1992). Reaching the age of 65 does not necessarily entitle the payor to retire without consequence when the court considers the recipient’s financial needs.
If you have questions concerning alimony or your Tampa divorce, contact Hackworth Law, P.A., for a free case consultation. We’ve handled hundreds of family law matters in the Tampa Bay area and look forward to working with you to ensure your rights are protected. If you would like to contact our office immediately, please use the “Contact Us Now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website. We appreciate you taking the time and checking out our Tampa Divorce Attorney blog and look forward to working with you in the future.