An alimony issue was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Cooper v. Cooper. In this case the husband appealed a divorce judgment obtained by his wife. The trial court awarded the wife permanent alimony. The Husband contended that the amount of the alimony award was improper. The Florida Court of Appeal agreed. In calculating alimony, the trial court included the husband's total income which consisted of the husband's salary and bonuses. The Florida Court of Appeal ruled that the ability to pay alimony is based on net income, not total income. Therefore, the appellate court reversed the alimony award and remanded the case back to the trial court with directions that the trial curt should issue an award based upon the husband's net income. Additionally, the appellate court directed the trial court to calculate the tax consequences of the support award on the husband's net income. Finally, the Florida Court of Appeal instructed the trial court to determine whether life insurance was required to secure the payment of the alimony award based on the cost of the insurance, its availability and the need for this insurance.
In awarding alimony, the trial court is required to take into account the payor's living expenses. In a recently decided case before the Florida Court of Appeal captioned Will v. Will, the husband appealed the lower court's award of alimony. The husband challenged the alimony award, because the trial court erred in determining his ability to pay without taking into account his living expenses. The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the lower court's alimony award. The Florida Court of Appeal stated that when a trial court calculates alimony, it is required to take into account the payor's living expenses when determining the payor's ability to pay. In determining a payor's ability to pay, a court must consider the payor's necessary and reasonable living expenses. An award of support must take into account the payor's living expenses. An award of alimony shouldn't substantially endanger a payor's economic status. Since the lower court failed to take into account the husband's living expenses, the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the award and ordered the court to consider the husband's living expenses and his current income in calculating the appropriate alimony award.
Calculation of alimony was recently discussed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Reyes v. Fernandez. The court stated that permanent alimony is intended to provide for the needs and the necessities of life of the former spouse, as they were established during the course of their marriage. The two primary factors are the needs of the recipient spouse and the ability of the payor to provide the required funds.
Imputation of alimony was recently discussed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Frerking v. Stacy. In this case, the former wife appealed a trial court's decision that denied her request for permanent alimony and imputed income to her. The parties were married for nineteen years. The Florida Court of appeal pointed out that permanent alimony is intended to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the course of the marriage. Permanent alimony is presumed to be appropriate after a long-term marriage. A marriage that lasts seventeen years or more is considered to be a long-term marriage. A trial court errs when it fails to award permanent alimony where there has been a long-term marriage, unless the presumption favoring this award is overcome by competent substantial evidence.
Modification of Alimony was recently discussed by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Inman v. Inman. In this case the former husband sought appellate review of a trial court order denying his supplemental petition for modification of alimony. The former husband sought to terminate his alimony obligation based upon the remarriage of his former wife. He also sought modification based on the parties change in financial circumstances. The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court based on its inappropriate application of the standard to modify alimony awards.
In an alimony case, a trial court may require a paying spouse to maintain life insurance under certain circumstances. In order for a court to require a paying spouse to maintain life insurance, the trial court must find that the insurance is available, it must state the cost of the policy, and it must determine the that paying spouse has the ability to pay for the cost of the insurance. The amount of the insurance required must be commensurate with the amount of the support obligation. Finally, in order to require a paying spouse to maintain life insurance to secure an alimony obligation, there must be "special circumstances" that justify this requirement. These special circumstances include situations where the recipient spouse would be left in severe financial condition after the death of the paying spouse due to his or her poor health, age, or lack of employment potential.
In Florida, permanent alimony is rebuttably presumed to be appropriate in a marriage that exceeds seventeen years. In a case captioned Hedden v. Hedden, the wife appealed a judgment terminating her marriage of thirty-seven years. The parties have two children. The wife was a stay-at-home mother for a majority of the marriage. The wife was last employed twelve years prior to date of the trial. The wife also had a medical condition. The trial court found that the wife had a need for support and that the husband had the ability to pay. The trial court awarded the Wife both permanent and durational alimony. The durational alimony was scheduled to end when the wife reached age 62. At age 62, the wife was eligible to receive Social Security benefits.
In alimony cases, living with someone may reduce or eliminate the need for alimony when the live-in relationship is found to be substantially equivalent to a remarriage. In a recently decided case captioned Bruce v. Bruce, the wife appealed the trial court's refusal to award her alimony. The parties were married for twenty years. They had three children. The wife worked part time and took care of the children during the day. The wife had serious medical issues, including being hearing impaired and having permanent arthritis, and was a cancer survivor. The wife moved out of the marital home and into an apartment with her boyfriend. The wife denied that she was in a supportive relationship with her boyfriend. The wife contended that she owes her boyfriend back rent, which she intends to repay in the future. The wife contended that she pays for her own phone, electric and water bills and pays for her own groceries. The wife and her boyfriend have no joint financial accounts, they have no joint investments and they do not jointly own personal or real property.
In awarding alimony, income will not be imputed to a spouse who decides to defer taking Social Security benefits when that party would receive larger benefits by deferring the benefits.
In a recent decided alimony case captioned Shimer v. Corey, the Florida Court of Appeal held that the lower court made a mistake when it required the Husband to purchase a life insurance policy as part of the alimony award in this case. The Florida statutes permit a court to require a party to maintain a life insurance policy to secure alimony payments. In making a decision as to whether a payor should be required to purchase insurance to secure an alimony award the trial court should consider the following factors.