Alimony

The issue of alimony will be a matter that has to be resolved in your case. We either can resolve it through a negotiated settlement or the trial court judge will decide the issue. After almost five decades of practicing matrimonial law, a settlement of an issue is often times better than litigated results. To better understand the concepts of alimony, I refer you to Florida Statute 61.08 which is the alimony statute.

Basically there are six types of alimony: temporary alimony, rehabilitative alimony, permanent alimony, durational alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, and lump sum alimony.

Temporary alimony is alimony that is paid from the filing of the petition of dissolution of marriage to the final judgment of dissolution of marriage. It is reflected by a court order which memorializes how much alimony is to be paid and whether it is to be paid weekly or monthly as well as whether it is to be paid directly to a spouse or through the Clerk of the Circuit Court. There may be some tax aspects to alimony that is memorialized in a court order. You may want to consult your tax advisor for that information. The basic concepts are that whether or not alimony is paid or not are governed by Florida Statute 61.08 with an overriding concept of one’s need for economic support and the other spouse’s ability to pay it. For example the court could order $1,000 per month from the date of filing the petition for dissolution of marriage seeking alimony to the entry of the final judgment of dissolution of marriage.

Bridge-the-gap alimony is an alimony award which may be awarded to assist a party in providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. It is designed to assist the party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs and the length of the award may not exceed two years. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony is not modifiable in the amount or the duration. For example, the court could order bridge-the-gap alimony in the amount of first, last, security, and three months of $1,000 per month of bridge-thegap alimony.

Rehabilitative alimony is paid from the economically superior spouse to a spouse who is unemployed or not sufficiently employed to be self supporting. The issue of rehabilitative alimony is truly different on a case by case basis. The concept of whether or not one is really “unemployed”, “underemployed”, or whether one has the “ability” to work and is a factual presentation that has to be resolved through negotiations or litigation. Rehabilitative alimony is ordered to be paid when the court determines that a spouse can be economically rehabilitated in a reasonable period of time when that spouse can earn a sufficient amount of money to be somewhat self supporting. For example, the court could order three years of rehabilitative alimony at $1,000 a month while skills are being developed by the recipient.

Durational alimony is an award of alimony when permanent periodic alimony is appropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration, The amount of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a change of circumstances. However the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances. For example, the court could order $1,000 a month for four years or so.

Permanent alimony is an award of alimony to provide the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties. For a party who lacks the financial abilities to meet his or her needs and necessities of life. Permanent alimony may be awarded after a marriage of long duration. Long duration has been defined as a marriage longer than seventeen years. For example, the court could order $1,000 a month for the rest of your life or until you re-marry, die, the husband dies, or cohabitation warranting a modification or a termination of permanent alimony.

Lump sum alimony is an award of alimony for a specific lump sum. For example, the court could order lump sum alimony in the amount of $24,000 payable in thirty days or an award of lump sum alimony in the amount of $24,000 payable in installment such s $1,000 per month for twenty-four months.

Family law practitioners handle cases on an individual basis. However, I did want to share with you a general outline that may be beneficial to you.

Very truly yours, STEPHEN H. BUTTER

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Stephen Butter