In awarding alimony in a Florida divorce proceeding, the trial court errs when it sets off an equitable distribution payment against the payor’s alimony obligation. In Moore v. Moore, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that: “The trial court also erred by setting off the equalization payment, which Former Husband was required to make to Former Wife pursuant to the partial settlement agreement, against Former Wife’s bridge-the-gap alimony obligation.
Alimony is not considered an ordinary debt; and in the absence of compelling equitable considerations, a trial court errs in allowing a set off of debt against it. See Glaeser v. Glaeser, 449 So. 2d 428, 429-30 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984); Chappell v. Chappell, 253 So. 2d 281 (Fla. 4th DCA 1971). It would seem to be a matter of common sense that this rule would apply with special force when the alimony at issue is expressly designed to provide immediate funds to the financially disadvantaged spouse with legitimate identifiable short term needs in order to cushion the transition away from being married to being single. § 61.08(5), Fla. Stat. (2011). Here, the award of $10,900 bridge-the-gap alimony was set off by a $7,772.28 equitable distribution credit, reducing bridge-the-gap award payable to Former Husband to $3,127.72. This set-off is inconsistent with the purpose of a bridge-the-gap award. We accordingly affirm in part and reverse in part the final judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
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