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Understanding the basics of alimony

For some Florida divorcees, the idea of making regular support payments to an ex-spouse is extremely uncomfortable. Still, alimony is an important part of family law that is not going away any time soon. To avoid being caught off guard, individuals who suspect they may be ordered to pay support may want to familiarize themselves with alimony, its purpose and the deciding factors that go into a court decision. 

The length of a couple's marriage is important when deciding alimony. If the marriage lasted only a handful of years, then it is unlikely that one party will be ordered to pay any type of long-term support, especially if both people earn similar incomes. However, couples who were married for a significant period of time with noticeably different income levels are more likely to have alimony show up in their divorce proceedings. This usually means couples who were married for at least 10 years or longer, although judges may exercise their own discretion. 

Alimony is more likely if one spouse did not work at all during the marriage. This can flip the idea of brief marriages not yielding alimony. Take for example a parent who quit his or her job in a competitive field to stay home and raise a child, only to divorce a few years after marriage. Rehabilitative alimony will provide necessary financial support until such a time as the recipient can re-enter the work force or take advantage of necessary job retraining opportunities. 

Being ordered to pay alimony is not about "losing," nor is receiving support considered "winning." As part of the larger picture, reaching an agreement on spousal support is important for ending a marriage on the fairest terms possible. However, for those in Florida who are still uncomfortable with the idea, alternatives to monthly payments -- such as single lump sum payments or a redistribution of marital property -- are possible alternatives. 

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