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.
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.
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.