Divorce is a major financial transaction. This is especially true when alimony comes into play. But there’s a lot of confusion out there about how spousal support is dealt with in these cases, and what you can do to protect your interests. We hope that this post will provide you with some clarity so that you can make the legal decisions that are right for you moving forward.
When does the alimony analysis kick in?
In most cases, alimony won’t be addressed until after the property division process is settled. This is because the aim of awarding spousal support is usually to support the financially dependent spouse to better ensure that he or she can enjoy the standard of living that was enjoyed during the course of marriage. If that’s not possible, then a court will try to position that dependent spouse as close as possible to the marital standard of living. Remember, Florida’s law requires marital assets to be divided in an equitable fashion, so you may want to keep any potential alimony award in mind as you try to negotiate or litigate a property division dispute.
How does the court determine if alimony should be awarded?
The court is going to look to see if the requesting spouse has a need for alimony. Therefore, a number of factors will be taken into consideration. Each party’s earning capacity, health, age, education, and training will be taken into account. A court will also consider the length of the marriage and any sacrifices that one made to his or her own education and/or career in order to raise a family. The marital standard of living is key, too, and it can set the amount of alimony that is to be paid if the court does, in fact, determine that an award of alimony is justified.
How is the marital standard of living assessed?
When the court assesses the proper amount of alimony to award, it looks at the marital standard of living. Here, the court will consider several factors, including the house that you lived in, the cars that you drove, the vacations that you took, the shopping that you conducted, and even the dining out that you enjoyed. Nearly every aspect of your marriage is taken into consideration, except that debt-driven lifestyle choices will be excluded as they will be deemed to have artificially inflated the marital standard of living.
How long will alimony payments last?
This depends on the circumstances of your case. In some instances, the parties agree to, or the court orders, a one-time lump sum payment. In most cases, though, the alimony is rehabilitative in nature. This means that the financially dependent spouse if financially supported through alimony payments until he or she can become self-supporting. This usually means that the dependent spouse pursues education, training, or other career opportunities.
There are other types of alimony, though. Durational alimony has a specified time frame, and permanent alimony may be awarded when the dependent spouse is disabled or for some reason unable to work. The length of the marriage is often key in awarding these types of alimony.
Be confident navigating your alimony issues
Confronting alimony challenges is tough. And the stakes are high. The outcome of our spousal support dispute could make or break your financial future. That’s why it might be in your best interests to discuss your unique set of circumstances with an experienced family law attorney who you can trust.