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Setting and Changing the Amount and Duration of Alimony Payments in Florida

Over the past several decades, a number of states have significantly altered their alimony laws. In many jurisdictions, spousal support determinations are a lot like child support determinations. A formula, which usually accounts for the length of the marriage and income disparity between the spouses, usually determines the amount and duration of payments. But Florida’s alimony law is still rather subjective. Judges have almost unlimited discretion when it comes to setting the amount and duration of alimony payments

So, whether you are an obligor (person paying support) or an obligee (person receiving support), assertive representation from a good Orlando family law and alimony attorney is critical in these situations. Otherwise, you could end up paying too much or not receiving enough. Furthermore, when financial or emotional circumstances change, a lawyer can modify alimony payments, or fight your ex-spouse’s move to change them.

Setting Alimony Payments

Several types of alimony are available. Temporary spousal support is usually available. This money helps spouses deal with divorce-related expenses, like attorneys’ fees. Term alimony, which is usually capped at the length of the marriage, is sometimes available. The requesting spouse must establish a financial need and show that the other spouse has the ability to pay. 

Long-term alimony, which is basically a form of post-divorce income redistribution, is only available in a few cases. Generally, the requesting spouse must show that s/he has a disability which makes economic self-sufficiency impossible.

Back to economic need and ability to pay. Note that these things are different from economic wants and the willingness to pay. Some factors to consider in this area include:

  • Length of the marriage,
  • Noneconomic contributions to the relationship (i.e. the “homemaker” factor),
  • Custody of minor children,
  • Relative earning ability of each spouse,
  • Children’s special needs, if any,
  • Each spouse’s resources, including nonmarital property awards, and
  • Agreements between the parties.

The last bullet point might be the biggest one. Most judges approve most spousal agreements, as long as they are not blatantly one-sided and are consistent with legal requirements.

Changing Alimony Payments

As mentioned, changing emotional and financial situations could prompt the judge to decrease, increase, lengthen, or stop alimony payments.

The obligee’s remarriage terminates an alimony obligation. That’s a hard and fast rule. However, many obligees are in marriage-type relationships. Even though Florida does not recognize common law marriages, such a relationship could prompt a judge to terminate spousal support payments. Some factors to consider include the length of the relationship, any large joint purchases made, and income commingling.

Speaking of income, some income changes could also trigger modification, either up or down. The requesting spouse must normally prove that the change is permanent, mostly involuntary, and substantial.

Retirement is a good example. The obligor’s retirement is an anticipated event. So, it does not automatically terminate support payments. Retirement-based terminations are even harder to prove if the obligor took early retirement and made any statements, on social media or elsewhere, which indicate s/he retired early to avoid paying spousal support.

Spousal support laws are subjective in Florida, and the orders are not set in stone. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Orlando, or an experienced Orlando divorce lawyer, contact our law firm today. Convenient payment plans are available.