Alimony is also known as spousal support or maintenance. It is the payment of money from one spouse to the other during the divorce proceedings and after. The payments are often called temporary support when issued during the divorce.
Florida has different types of alimony that are subject to change. New forms of alimony have come into existence over the past several years. As of 2012, Florida law provides the following types of alimony:
Permanent Periodic Alimony
Permanent Periodic Alimony does not have any set end date. Permanent periodic alimony is commonly paid by one spouse to the other on a monthly basis. It is often used for a long term marriage (17 years or more) in which one of the spouses is unable to support them self sufficiently without contribution from the higher-earning spouse. It is also found in shorter term marriages where there are more severe issues present, such as one spouse’s disability or inability to work. Permanent periodic alimony gives the paying spouse a duty to submit alimony until their own death, the death of their spouse, the remarriage of their spouse, or until the Court orders the abatement or reduction of payments. Many spouses who are paying permanent periodic alimony will need to seek a modification or termination at some point in their life. A modification or termination of alimony is often appropriate when the paying spouse retires, becomes disabled, loses their job, or otherwise has a long-term reduction in income.
Durational alimony is a relatively new form of alimony in which one spouse pays the other spouse for a set period of time. Durational alimony payments are commonly made monthly, and have a set end date. The length of the durational alimony payment may not exceed the length of the marriage, and are generally awarded for no less than two full years. Durational alimony may be awarded in a marriage of any length, but this type of alimony is commonly associated with marriages of 7 through 17 years. Marriages of this duration are considered moderate term marriages (as opposed to short term or long term marriages). Durational alimony awards are usually subject to modification proceedings, but the standards for modification are specific to this form of alimony.
Rehabilitative Alimony affords one spouse time to increase his/her own earning potential and become more self-sufficient. The rehabilitative plan is created by the person requesting alimony and often includes additional education that will allow for increased earning potential. The goal of rehabilitative alimony is to allow the spouse with less earning power to improve their earning potential, which in turn will resolve some or all of their need for alimony. Rehabilitative alimony awards are subject to modification or termination.
Bridge-The-Gap Alimony is awarded for a set period of time that does not exceed two years. It is typically paid monthly to allow one spouse to “bridge-the-gap” from the higher standard of marital living to the lower standard of living that they are likely to assume after the divorce. This form of alimony allows for a transition period to allow the spouse with lower earning to adjust their lifestyle and expenses. This type of alimony is not modifiable but it may terminate early.
Lump Sum Alimony is a method of alimony where payment is rendered at once or in large chunks. It is generally awarded in situations where the Court has the ability to meet the desired need of the recipient spouse when there is a pressing need for the funds, and they are available. Modification or termination of this form of alimony may, or may not, be available.
Modification or Termination of Alimony
Modification or termination of alimony is a complicated matter. Termination of alimony means a complete end to the obligation. Modification of alimony can increase or decrease the amount and/or length of the payments. Some types of alimony may be subject to modification while others may not be. Parties can sometimes agree that their alimony may not be modifiable, even when the form of alimony would be modifiable in ordinary situations.
In general, a person should consider looking into eligibility for a modification if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Examples are if the paying spouse has retired, become disabled, lost his or her job, has received a large pay cut, has had an unavoidable increase in their own expenses, or has otherwise been put into a position involuntarily where it is difficult or impossible to meet their payment obligation. Likewise, the receiving party may want to consider a modification of alimony if the payments they are receiving no longer meet their needs for reasons beyond their control. An example of this situation would be a large discrepancy in the cost of living between now and when the award was initially granted. If such a circumstance exists in your life then we encourage you to contact The Windle Family Law Firm for more information about your options.
Typically, termination of alimony is available when either party dies, when the receiving party remarries, or when the termination date for the alimony obligation arrives. However, termination may also be available in other situations. If a former spouse has not remarried but is now living with another person, that may create a basis for modification or termination of the alimony. Furthermore, if a spouse is receiving rehabilitative alimony, and that spouse is not complying with their rehabilitative plan, then the alimony obligation may be subject to termination.