Alimony Continued

In the last article, I broadly outlined the factors considered in determining whether to award alimony. In this article, I am going to briefly discuss the six (6) types of alimony available under Florida law: permanent periodic, temporary, bridge the gap, rehabilitative, durational and lump sum.

Permanent Periodic Alimony is the award of a periodic payment (usually monthly) by Former Spouse A to Former Spouse B for an indefinite period of time. In marriages of 17 years or longer, there is a presumption in favor of this form of alimony. If alimony is court-ordered, the period of time can be modified at a later time based upon a substantial, material, unanticipated change in circumstances of either party to affect the financial need of the recipient and/or the financial ability to pay of the payor. If, however, the parties enter into a settlement agreement and agree the payment is to be non-modifiable (or only modifiable if ….), then the specific provision of the agreement will generally be enforced.

The other commonly known form of alimony is Temporary Alimony. This form of alimony is a periodic payment (usually monthly) from Spouse A to Spouse B during the pendency of the dissolution of marriage action. Unlike all other forms of alimony, you cannot contract out of paying temporary support in a pre or postnuptial agreement.

Bridge the Gap Alimony is typically awarded to a Former Spouse for a very short duration to provide that spouse to transition to a new residence, job, geography and the like. For example, if the Wife was the primary wage earner and Husband wanted to move to another state to live and work, the Husband would identify the expenses he expected to incur and an amount of funds he needed to get himself situated. The Wife would be ordered to pay those expenses as Bridge the Gap alimony.

Rehabilitative Alimony is similar to bridge the gap alimony, but anticipates a longer period of transition and typically coincides with costs associated with developing or reinstating a marketable skill. For example, if Wife worked as a Certified Public Accountant in another state several years prior to the divorce and was able to reenter the work force as a Certified Public Accountant in Florida with additional training, time to focus training, funds for testing expense and licensing expense. The Wife could request and be awarded rehabilitation alimony to help cover living expenses while she was obtaining her licensure and the costs associated with the training, testing and licensing.

Durational Alimony is more similar to permanent periodic. It is a specific amount to be paid periodically (typically monthly) by Former Spouse A to Former Spouse B for a specific period of time. Whereas a long-term marriage (17 years or more) sparks a presumption for permanent periodic, in a moderate term marriage (more than 7 years and less than 17 years) the courts generally find durational alimony more appropriate and fix the duration somewhere around half the term of the marriage.

Lastly, there is a more unique form of alimony: Lump Sum Alimony. Because the court has to make a specific finding that no other form of alimony would be appropriate, it is not as frequently requested or ordered. But, by definition, it is a lump sum payment made in lieu of an ongoing periodic payment.

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