There are four types of alimony in Florida. They are permanent alimony, durational alimony, rehabilitative alimony and bridge-the-gap, alimony. Trial courts can award one or any combination of these four types of alimony.
In a case captioned Ogle v. Ogle, the Florida Court of Appeal recently described the purpose of these four different types of alimony. The purpose of bridge-the-gap alimony, is to provide funds to assist a person in making the transition from being married to being single. Its purpose is 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 permanent alimony is to provide for the needs of a recipient spouse as they were established during the course of a marriage. It is intended to provide funds to a spouse who lacks the financial ability to pay for these expenses. Finally, the purpose of durational alimony is to provide economic assistance to a recipient spouse for a specific period of time after a “moderate duration” marriage. A “moderate duration” marriage has a duration that is between seven and seventeen years. Durational alimony may not exceed the term of the marriage. It is available when permanent alimony is not appropriate.
The appellate court in Ogle v. Ogle 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 an ability to pay alimony and the other party has a need for alimony, the trial court must consider ten statutory factors in deciding whether alimony is appropriate and which type of alimony is most appropriate. Two of these 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. In determining whether a party has the ability to pay alimony, the court must look at that portion of a 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 case at bar, the wife was awarded durational alimony. The husband argued that he should be given credit for the forty 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 marriage. 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 proceeding. What made this case somewhat unusual was that the dissolution proceedings were bifurcated. The parties were divorced, and some time passed before an alimony award 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.