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Determining Alimony in the State of Florida

In Florida, there is no mathematical calculation for determining alimony. Alimony is based on the requesting party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. See Fla. Stat. § 61.08(2) (2016). The party requesting alimony has the burden of establishing their need and the other party’s ability to pay. Once the trial court has determined that the requesting party has a need for alimony and the other party has the ability to pay, the trial court must consider all relevant factors listed in section 61.08(2), Florida Statutes (2016), including, but not limited to the standard of living established during the marriage.

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How does a court determine need for alimony?

The need of the requesting spouse is based on the marital standard of living. The standard of living for alimony purposes is based on the standard of living last shared by the parties preceding the dissolution of marriage. Any award of alimony cannot exceed the requesting spouse’s actual need. Trial courts “may not consider future or anticipated events in setting current alimony … due to the lack of an evidentiary basis or the uncertainty surrounding such future events.” Nelson v. Nelson, 651 So. 2d 1252, 1254 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995).

How does a court determine if a party has the ability to pay alimony?

When determining whether the other party has the ability to pay, the trial court must first determine the party’s net income. Income is not limited to salary or compensation. Section 61.08(2)(i), Florida Statute (2016), requires the trial court consider “[a]ll sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.”

How much of my salary or income will be awarded as alimony?

The trial court is not allowed to award an amount of alimony that allows for the requesting party’s needs to be met, but leaves the other party barely able to meet their monthly expenses. See Hoffman v. Hoffman, 127 So. 3d 863 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013). The trial court will try to “ensure that each party’s standard of living comes as close as possible to the prior lifestyle, given the available financial resources.” Griffin v. Griffin, 906 So.2d 386, 389 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005); see also Laz v. Laz, 727 So.2d 966, 967 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998). Any award of alimony may not leave the other party with significantly less net income than the net income of the requesting party. In other words, the spouse receiving alimony should not receive an amount that exceeds the income of the spouse’s that is paying alimony.

Is there any sort of guidelines or formula to determine alimony?

Again, there is no mathematical formula to determine alimony in the State of Florida. However, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) created a formula that they state is a guideline to follow when calculating alimony. Many judges do not follow this guideline. However, it may offer an estimate of the potential monthly alimony obligation. The formula is be calculated by taking 30 percent of the payor’s gross income minus 20 percent of the payee’s gross income. The additional limitation is that the alimony amount, so calculated, when added to the gross income of the payee, shall not result in the recipient receiving in excess of 40 percent of the combined gross income of the parties.

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For example:
Payor’s gross income is $250,000.00 x .30 = $75,000.00
Payee’s gross income is $80,000.00 x .20 = $16,0000.00
$59,000.00 yearly alimony obligation
$4,916.66 monthly alimony obligation

Again, this is merely a guideline used for informational purposes and not a mathematical formula utilized by the courts. In the State of Florida, alimony is still calculated based on need and ability to pay as defined by section 61.08(2), Florida Statutes (2016).