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A Guide to Spousal Support After Divorce
If you are beginning to think about divorce, alimony might be a factor in your decision. Whether you are considering whether to ask for support or if you are trying to avoid paying it, alimony laws can be confusing. You may not know what you are entitled to, what it takes to get a modification, or the many types available to each spouse. If you are looking to become more informed on the topic of spousal support, read on to learn more.
Types of Spousal Support
Florida provides five types of alimony: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent. Couples can negotiate the terms of the alimony award, including the type, duration, and amount of support. However, if you can’t agree, the judge will evaluate your circumstances and decide for you.
If you’re seeking alimony, note that a judge can order any type of alimony if it’s appropriate, given your circumstances. The following discussion outlines the types of alimony available in Florida.
1. Temporary Alimony
Temporary alimony supports a spouse until the divorce is finalized. It does not provide long-term support and is usually only awarded in cases where one spouse has a high income and the other spouse has a low income. This alimony generally ends when the divorce is finalized, or an agreement is reached at trial.
2. Bridge-the-Gap Alimony
Bridge-the-gap alimony supports you during your transition from married to single life. This type of alimony is designed to help you become independent after the divorce and typically lasts no longer than two years.
3. Rehabilitative Alimony
Rehabilitative alimony helps you establish yourself financially after your divorce. You may receive this type of support while attending school or training for a new career. The duration of rehabilitative alimony depends on how long it will take you to complete your education or training program and become financially independent. Usually, this spousal support can last between several months up to five years, but it can be extended if necessary and permitted by the court.
4. Durational Alimony
Durational alimony provides financial support for a set period following a short or moderate length marriage.
5. Permanent Alimony
This type of alimony is precisely how it sounds. However, it is essential to be aware that circumstances can change, and modifications can be made to an alimony order if it falls within the proper criteria for modification.
Criteria for Spousal Support
Several factors go into deciding if a spouse will receive support. The court first determines if there is a need and ability to pay. Then they take into account the standard of living established during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the spouses’ ages, and physical and emotional health.
The court also considers both spouses’ financial resources, assets, liabilities, earning capacities, and vocational skills. They evaluate how long it will take for either spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to find employment. They also consider each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including homemaking, childcare, education, and career-building of the other spouse. If one spouse has primary parental responsibility for minor children, that is also considered.
Can Spousal Support be Modified?
The simplest answer to this question is yes. However, a few guidelines will determine if a modification is applicable. To modify your alimony payments, there must be some “substantial” change in circumstances. The purpose of an alimony award is to maintain a spouse at a certain standard of living that was established during the marriage, so if one party’s income has changed significantly since the divorce judgment was entered, then this may be considered a substantial change.
For example, suppose your income has decreased significantly since your divorce judgment because you have lost your job or switched to working part-time instead of full-time. In that case, this may be considered a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification of your alimony payments.
Can My Ex Refuse to Pay Spousal Support?
If your former spouse refuses to pay alimony as court-ordered, you have a right to bring the issue back to court. In many cases, an ex-spouse may fall behind on payments due to financial constraints or other obligations. Before taking the matter to court, you may want to discuss the missed alimony payments with your former spouse. If your ex has a legitimate reason for missing payments, the judge may temporarily reduce payments, making it more feasible for your former spouse to fulfill this obligation. However, if your ex simply refuses to make these payments, you will have to return to court to enforce the order.
Spousal Support: Conclusion
The more time you spend researching Florida alimony laws, the better informed you will be when deciding on spousal support. In addition to being informed, it is recommended to seek counsel from an attorney who specializes in divorce law. If you choose to do so, consult with an attorney with experience with divorce law in your state. Most importantly, make informed and deliberate decisions regarding your divorce. There should be no surprises! If you need an experienced attorney on your side, contact us at Koleilat Law to schedule a consultation today!