There are four types of alimony in Florida. They are temporary alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony and durational alimony. Trial courts may award one or any combination of these four types of alimony.
In a recent case captioned Ogle v. Ogle, the Florida Court of Appeal described the purpose of these different types of alimony.
Temporary alimony is a form of alimony payable during the time that an action for dissolution of marriage is pending. In determining whether and to what extent temporary alimony will be awarded, trial courts will consider the needs of the spouses requesting alimony and the ability of the other spouses to pay alimony.
The purpose of bridge-the-gap alimony, is to provide funds to assist people in making the transition from being married to being single. It is intended to provide funds for identifiable, legitimate short-term needs.
The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to provide assistance to parties in becoming self-supporting through education and job training.
The purpose of durational alimony is to provide economic assistant to recipient spouses for a specific period of time. The amount of durational alimony is the amount that is required to meet the recipient’s “reasonable economic needs”. However, the amount of durational alimony may not exceed thirty-five (35%) percent of the difference between the parties’ net incomes. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse or upon the death of either of the parties. Durational alimony may not be awarded following a marriage that lasts less than three (3) years.
In the case of Ogle v. Ogle, the Florida Court of Appeals went on to point out that in deciding whether to award alimony, trial courts are required to first make a finding that one of the parties has a need for alimony and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony. Once the trial court determines that one party has the ability to pay alimony and the other party has a need for alimony, the trial court must consider eight statutory factors in deciding whether alimony is appropriate and which type of alimony is most appropriate. Two of these eight statutory factors are the parties’ sources of income and their overall financial resources.
A party’s gross income is irrelevant in determining a party’s ability to pay alimony. In determining whether a party has the ability to pay alimony, the court must look at that portion of the spouse’s income that is available to make alimony payments. Net income, after expenses, is determinative. In addition to a payor’s net income, a payor’s net worth is also indicative of a party’s ability to pay alimony.
In the Ogle v. Ogle case, the wife was awarded durational alimony. The husband argued that he should be given credit for the 40 months of temporary alimony that he paid to the wife during the time period in which the divorce was pending. Temporary alimony is based on the obligation of a spouse who has financial means to support a spouse who has a need for financial support during the course of the divorce proceedings. Durational alimony is an obligation that accrues after a divorce takes place. The Florida Court of Appeal ruled that the husband was not entitled for credit for the temporary alimony that he paid during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. What made this case somewhat unusual was that the dissolution proceedings were bifurcated. The parties were divorced, and some time passed before an alimony and child support award were made by the trial court. During this time period, the husband made alimony and child support payments to the wife. The Florida Court of Appeal considered these interim payments to be post-marriage payments which were to be credited against future alimony payments that were awarded to the wife.
To speak with a Palm Beach Gardens divorce attorney to discuss alimony in Florida, contact the Lane Law Firm, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.