In an alimony case captioned Speigner v. Speigner, the parties were married for almost twenty (20) years. Both parties worked during the course of the marriage. The Husband had the larger income. The Wife worked, raised the parties’ children and ran the household.
After hearing the evidence, the trial court found that the Wife had a need for support and the former husband had the ability to pay. The court stated that the Wife had significant business acumen and found that both the Husband and the Wife had the capacity to earn additional income. The trial court awarded the Wife eight years of durational alimony.
The Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling. In reversing the lower court’s ruling the appellate court pointed out that in Florida, a long-term marriage is a marriage that exceeds seventeen years. There is a rebuttable presumption that permanent alimony will be awarded following a long-term marriage. This presumption can only be rebutted if there is proof that after termination of the alimony payments the recipient spouse has the capacity to support him or herself at the marital standard of living. Durational alimony is only appropriate if the court finds that the recipient spouse does not have an ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. In order to justify an award of durational alimony following a long-term marriage, a court must find that the recipient spouse is capable of attaining a level of self-support that is commensurate with the marital standard of living at the time that the durational alimony expires.