A durational alimony case was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Rhoden v. Rhoden. In this case the husband filed a Petition for Dissolution of a thirty-five year marriage. The husband denied that wife required alimony, and denied that he was able to pay it. The Court stated that the wife had several illnesses, and probably would not have been employable if she had not worked for her husband. The Florida Statutes enable trial courts to award several different types of alimony. In awarding alimony, a court must first find that one party has a need for support and that the other party has the ability to pay. Once the court makes this initial determination, the Court is required to consider other factors set forth in the Florida Statutes. In this case, the trial court awarded the wife durational alimony.
The Florida Court of Appeal found that the parties’ marriage was a long term marriage. A long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or more. When there is a long-term marriage, there is a rebuttable presumption that permanent alimony is appropriate. In this case, the trial court awarded the wife durational alimony, instead of awarding her permanent alimony. Durational alimony supplies the recipient with support for a set period of time when there is not an ongoing need for support on a long-term basis. Durational alimony can be awarded when permanent alimony is not appropriate. In this case, the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling because the trial court did not make a finding that permanent periodic alimony was inappropriate, and because the trial court did not find that the former wife did not have a permanent, ongoing need for support.