Every family is unique and so every divorce is unique. When a family faces a Divorce, several related family law issues arise, such as Child Custody, Spousal Support, Alimony, as well as Property and Asset Distribution. The decisions a spouse faces during the Divorce process pose difficult questions and require critical planning to mitigate the impact on your income, your assets and, most importantly, your children.
You can rely on Mantoni Legal to guide you through this critical decision making process. Representing Clients in both high conflict and amicable divorces, you can trust that we will provide you with the same quality of service, treating you with the individualized and customized attention you deserve.
How is alimony determined in Florida? There is no mathematical calculation in determining alimony in Florida, such as there is with calculating Child Support. The court has broad discretion to decide (1) entitlement to alimony, (2) the amount of alimony, (3) the duration of alimony, and (4) the type of alimony. The court is bound by certain parameters however.
Who is entitled to alimony Florida?
Florida courts will look to the spouse who earns the most income to offset the earnings of the other spouse to maintain the standard of living enjoyed by the parties while married. The objective is to maintain the standard of living enjoyed by both spouses while married after dissolution of that marriage. If one spouse cannot afford that established standard of living with his or her own income, the other spouse must provide supplemental income.
Of course, what usually occurs after a divorce is that the standard of living enjoyed by two spouses in the same household goes down, because there are now two households to maintain.
In determining whether to award Alimony in Florida, the Court will first make a determination as to need and ability to pay and then the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party;
- The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and marital assets and liabilities distributed to each;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party;
- The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common;
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award; and
- All sources of income available to either party.
How is alimony Calculated in Florida?
There are two primary factors the Court must consider in determining the amount of Alimony:
(1) the need of the payee spouse (the spouse to receive the supplemental income), and
(2) the ability of the paying spouse to pay.
The court may impute income to a spouse who is capable of earning through his or her best efforts. Imputing income means that the Court will consider income that does not actually exist (that is not actually earned) for the purpose of calculating the amount of Alimony needed or the amount the paying spouse is able to pay.
How long does alimony last in Florida?
A short term marriage in Florida is 7 years or less. There is a rebuttable presumption against an award of permanent alimony in a short term marriage (the assumption is to not award.)
A moderate term marriage is a marriage greater than 7 years but less than 17 years. There is no presumption for or against permanent alimony in a moderate term marriage (there is no assumption for or against awarding.)
A long term marriage is 17 years or longer. There is a rebuttable presumption for an award of permanent alimony in a long-term marriage (the assumption is to award.)
The type of alimony generally dictates the duration.
Definition: Rebuttable Presumption – A rebuttable presumption is assumed true until a person proves otherwise
What are the different types of alimony in Florida?
Permanent Alimony is spousal financial support until the remarriage of the spouse receiving the Alimony, or the death of either party. Permanent Alimony is always modifiable with a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. The Court may terminate or modify Permanent Alimony if the Court finds that the payee spouse is in a supportive relationship. The Court must consider several factors before finding a supportive relationship exists, but a supportive relationship is essentially the same as a marriage and one based on financial support.
Rehabilitative Alimony is intended to provide assistance to a spouse while he or she regains the ability or establishes the capacity for self support.
Bridge-the-Gap Alimony is an award of Alimony for a short period of time, specifically to assist the receiving spouse with legitimate identifiable short-term needs in the transition from married to single life. The length of the award may not exceed 2 years. The award of this type of Alimony is non-modifiable.
Lump-Sum Alimony is an established sum paid at one time, or installments. The Court will award this type of Alimony when an award of Permanent Alimony is justified and the Court finds circumstances warranting a lump-sum payment. An example of such a circumstance is when the paying spouse is in poor health.
Durational Alimony provides a receiving spouse with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration. Durational Alimony terminates upon the death of either spouse, or upon the remarriage of the spouse receiving the support. Durational alimony is modifiable with a showing of a substantial change in circumstances, but the length of Durational Alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
Nominal Alimony may be awarded in cases in which the Court finds entitlement to Alimony, but due to insufficient resources available at the time of trial, the Court cannot award sufficient Alimony to meet the needs of the payee spouse. With an award of Nominal Alimony the Court reserves jurisdiction for the Court to later modify the amount of the award.
Retroactive Alimony may be awarded back to the date of filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
Alimony will be considered as the payee’s income for purposes of calculating Child Support.
Overall, the Court must consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties in determining the proper award of Alimony.
What is Child Support?
Child support is a court-ordered financial obligation from one parent to another for a child’s care. In Florida, Child support is the obligation of both parents, regardless of their personal relationship with one another (i.e. single, married or divorced). A parent can petition the Court for a determination of Child Support while a Divorce or Paternity case is pending.
How is Child Support caluclated?
The amount of Child Support to be received by one parent, from the other, is determined using a Child Support Guideline Worksheet, and a method called Income Shares Model. The Guideline and the Model utilize numerous factors in determining Child Support. Some of these factors include the income of each parent (which includes all sources of income and assets), the number of children, children from another relationship, and parenting time percentages (time-sharing schedules). Other relevant factors the Courts considers are the child’s medical, psychological, educational, and child care expenses.
When Child Support is at issue in a Court case (such as in a Divorce or Paternity matter), the parties (the parents) are required to file and exchange Financial Affidavits which verify individual income and expenses. Then the parents are required to complete a Child Support Guideline Worksheet. The Guideline helps calculate the basic Child Support Obligations based on the number of children and the parents’ combined net incomes (gross income minor allowable deductions.)
The Income Shares Model looks to the combined income of both parents and estimates the amount the parents would have spent on the child if the family were still together and living in the same household, and the. divides this amount between the parents and their incomes.
The parents can agree to a Child Support amount that falls within the Guideline amount, and the Court will likely approve the amount if it is within the Florida Guidelines. However, the judge has the discretion to vary from the Guidelines in certain circumstances.
Who pays Child Support?
In Florida, Child Support is the obligation of both parents. The custodial parent, or the parent legally determined to be the majority time-sharing parent, usually receives Child Support from the non-custodial parent. However, this determination also depends on the incomes of the parents.
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