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How alimony works in Florida

When preparing for a Florida divorce, alimony ranks among the important issues couples need to consider. Many people harbor misconceptions about alimony which may prevent them from understanding what to expect.

Florida law offers guidelines which courts use in setting alimony types, duration and amounts. Courts may choose to depart from a specific guideline if they believe it is highly necessary due to unusual circumstances.

Length of the marriage affects alimony amounts and types

One major factor that affects alimony is the length of the marriage. Florida law classifies marriages as long (17 years or more), moderate (between seven and 17 years) or short-term (less than seven years) for the purposes of alimony.

Durational alimony

A lesser-earning spouse exiting a short or moderate marriage may receive durational alimony. Typically, this is a specific amount split up into a series of payments over a period of time that should not be longer than the duration of the marriage.

Permanent alimony

Courts generally award permanent alimony after a moderate or long-term marriage, only if the lesser-earning spouse has no way to increase his or her income to sustain a reasonable approximation of the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage.

Transitional and rehabilitative

Other types of alimony include transitional and rehabilitative alimony, which have the similar goal of tiding over the lesser-earning spouse for a reasonable time after the divorce. Transitional alimony may consist of scheduled payments to cover the costs of building a separate life and achieving financial independence.

A judge may award rehabilitative alimony to cover the costs of a specific way the lower earner intends to increase earning capacity. For example, the lower earner may need to complete a certification program; rehabilitative alimony would give him or her the financial ability to do so.

Agreements can include alternative provisions

Divorcing couples may also come to an agreement about alimony and incorporate it in the final divorce judgment. A valid prenuptial agreement may also take care of this issue. Agreements do not have to correspond to a court's likely ruling on the issue or take into account statutory factors.

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