In an alimony case, there is a rebuttable presumption that a seventeen-year marriage is a long-term marriage and that an award of permanent alimony should be made. If the trial court does not award permanent alimony, the trial court must make findings as to why this rebuttable presumption should not apply. In Quinones v. Quinones the Florida Court of Appeal recently had a case before it in which the wife appealed a judgment awarding a dissolution of marriage from her husband. The wife argued that the lower court mistakenly found that her marriage to her husband was a moderate term marriage. The wife also argued that she should have received an award of permanent alimony. The Florida Court of Appeal agreed with the wife and reversed the lower court’s ruling. The parties were married in 1992. The husband filed a petition for dissolution of marriage after the parties had been married for seventeen years. By the time that the case was tried the parties were married for 23 years. Three weeks before the trial was held, the husband lost his part-time job and was in the process of transitioning to new full-time job. The trial court ruled that the wife should not receive alimony due to the fact that the marriage was a moderate term marriage and the financial circumstances of the parties.
The Florida Statute governing alimony provides that in making an alimony determination, there is a rebuttable presumption that a marriage of less than 7 years is a short-term marriage, a marriage that is greater than 7 years but less than 17 years is a moderate-term marriage, and a marriage exceeding 17 years is a long term marriage. When there is a long-term marriage, there is a rebuttable presumption that an award of permanent alimony should be made. Factors such as the parties’ age and income will not rebut this presumption. When an award of alimony is made, it is intended to be sufficient to provide for the needs of the recipient spouse, as his or her needs were established during the course of the marriage. When the recipient spouse lacks the ability to pay for his or her needs, the award of alimony is intended to supply the recipient party with sufficient funds to meet these needs. The lower court’s judgment in this case was reversed for failing to state why the rebuttable presumption that a marriage of 17 years was a long-term marriage did not apply to this case.
If you have questions to ask a divorce attorney in Wellington, Florida, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.