Miami Alimony Lawyers Protect Your Financial Rights
Knowledgeable and determined counsel focused on fair outcomes
If you are going through a divorce, you should have your eyes fixed hopefully on the future. But it’s hard to be hopeful when your future financial situation is unclear. Whether you are asking to receive alimony or suspect you’ll be required to pay it, the outcome of this particular issue will have a profound effect on your future. The Miami alimony attorneys at Rafool, PLLC are determined to seek the fairest outcome possible in alimony disputes. We draw on our extensive experience and knowledge of the law to build a compelling case on your behalf. Often, we are able to negotiate a mutually beneficial settlement that avoids the expense of a court battle and the risks of an adverse judgment. But, when we must take your case to court, we raise all the pertinent facts necessary to increase the likelihood of a favorable result.
How to qualify for alimony in Florida
The purpose of alimony is to ensure that a divorce does not unjustly enrich one spouse while imposing undue financial hardship on the other. To prevent that kind of injustice, the court can order a high-earning spouse to support their ex who relied on their income. Either spouse, regardless of sex, can request alimony. To qualify, a spouse must show financial need and that the other spouse has the ability to pay. After that, the court looks at various factors to determine the amount of support and the duration.
Types of alimony available in Florida
Florida law authorizes the following types of alimony:
- Bridge-the-gap alimony — This type of support assists a party who is attempting to transition from marriage to single life. A spouse with legitimate, identifiable short-term needs can receive support for up to two years, to help with needs such as finding a new home. Bridge-the-gap alimony terminates if either spouse dies, and the court may not modify such an order later.
- Rehabilitative alimony — This award assists a party who must redevelop or acquire job skills to become self-supporting. The party who requests this kind of alimony must have a specific rehabilitative plan worked out. A court can modify this award or terminate it if there is a substantial change in circumstances, such as noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan or completion of it.
- Durational alimony — Such support is appropriate when a party requires economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short (less than seven years) or moderate (greater than seven years but less than 17 years) duration. A court can also award this support following a marriage of long duration (17 years or longer) if permanent alimony is not necessary. This award terminates if either party dies or the recipient remarries. The court may modify the amount if there is a substantial change in circumstances but can only change the length of the award under exceptional circumstances. The duration of the award may not exceed the length of the marriage.
- Permanent alimony — Also known as lifetime alimony, this type of support has been reserved for marriages of long duration and circumstances in which a party permanently lacks the ability to meet their financial needs. A bill which would end the imposition of permanent alimony was passed by the Florida Legislature and is before the governor for potential signature. If this becomes law, these arrangements would likely be shifted to long-term durational alimony. Whether durational or permanent, alimony ends when the recipient entering into a new relationship where they receive financial support.
Alimony can be paid periodically or in a lump sum. To protect an award of alimony, the court may order the payor to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, such as the recipient being in extremely poor health, an alimony award may not leave the payor with significantly less net income than the recipient.
Can alimony be negotiated?
Many parties are able to reach alimony agreements through negotiations or mediation. The parties then present their agreement to the court for approval. Having control over the outcome is generally preferable to leaving the decision to a judge who could issue an adverse ruling.
How does Florida calculate alimony?
Florida family law requires the court to consider numerous factors when deciding whether to order alimony, what type should be provided, the amount of the award and the duration of the payments. Questions we’re often asked include:
- How much alimony can you expect to get? Florida has no specific formula for calculating alimony, but judges favor keeping dependent spouses at the standard of living they enjoyed during their marriage, if this does not cause undue hardship to the supporting spouse.
- How is the amount determined? Relevant factors the court considers include the length of the marriage, the age and health of each party, the financial resources and earning capacity of each party, the time necessary for a dependent spouse to become employable, each party’s contribution to the marriage, each party’s responsibilities for minor children and the tax consequences of an alimony award.
- What is the Florida alimony calculator? There is no official Florida alimony calculator. Each case is unique. However, there are some websites that try to estimate the amount of alimony a person could get based on certain factors that go into these decisions.
- How long do you have to be married to get alimony? Florida law does not set a minimum length of marriage to qualify, but the shorter the marriage, the lower the likelihood that alimony will be ordered. However, even with a brief union, if you can show a permanent inability to work due to illness or disability, you could receive payments.
- How long does a spouse have to pay alimony? Terms of alimony duration depend largely on the length of the marriage and the ability of the recipient to acquire or regain the skills and experience they need to pay for their own expenses.
The court may also consider any other factor it deems necessary to do justice in the case. As your Miami alimony advocates, we present detailed evidence related to these factors so the court has a reasoned basis for a decision in your favor.
How is alimony enforceable in Florida?
In Florida, enforcement of spousal support is done through civil contempt–of-court proceedings. A court can order wage garnishment and place liens on personal property. A court can even jail an obligor who has the means to pay alimony, but willfully refuses.
Alimony payment modifications in Florida
Some types of alimony are subject to modification by a court if the circumstances warrant it. The change must have been unanticipated at the time of the award and must be permanent, involuntary and material. Common reasons to modify an alimony award include:
- Health crises for either party
- Long-term unemployment for either party
- Discovery of fraud at the time the court awarded alimony
- Financial windfall, such as an inheritance or lottery win
- Recipient entering a financially supportive relationship
Generally speaking, a voluntary job change that results in less pay will not justify a modification, unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as poor health, that necessitated the change.
More Florida alimony FAQs
Additional questions we’re often asked include:
- Is alimony taxable? Starting in 2019, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible for the payor or taxable to the recipient. Now the payor pays tax on the income and the recipient receives alimony tax free.
- Can you take a tax deduction for alimony payments you make? Not anymore. That ended on December 31, 2018.
- Does a man have to pay alimony if he remarries? Florida alimony law is gender neutral. A party paying alimony does not shed the obligation by remarrying. However, the recipient spouse can lose the right to alimony upon remarriage or cohabitation with a supporting partner.
- Does a prenup prevent alimony? Under Florida law, a prenuptial agreement can be written to exclude alimony. However, a court will not enforce a waiver of alimony that is the result of coercion, duress, misrepresentation or fraud. A court might also void the waiver if enforcement would make a spouse dependent on public relief.
For specific answers based on your individual circumstances, speak to a Miami divorce lawyer at our firm.
Contact our Miami family law firm for determined alimony representation
The experienced family law attorneys at Rafool, PLLC handle alimony matters and other aspects of the Florida divorce process. For immediate assistance, call us at 305-567-9400 or contact our Miami office online to schedule an initial consultation.