Whereas child support is based on specific guidelines established by Florida law, alimony awards remain less predictable. At its essence, alimony is based on the need of one spouse to received support AND the ability of the other spouse to pay support. Both factors are necessary. Among the many other factors, the courts consider in awarding alimony are the length of the marriage and the ability of the spouse requesting alimony to be or become self-supporting.
Florida presently recognizes six separate types of alimony: temporary, bridge-the-gap, durational, rehabilitative, permanent periodic, and lump sum. The type of alimony that may apply to a case depends on a variety of factors that may be unique to a specific case. On occasion, a court may award more than one type of alimony. Some judges consider the “lifestyle” of the parties, and others discount it. The length of time and the conditions for termination of a given type of alimony also vary case-to-case.
In recent years, special interest groups have heavily lobbied the Florida legislature for significant reforms. Although last year’s legislature approved abolishing permanent alimony and introducing many other radical changes, these bills were vetoed by the Governor at the last minute. Unquestionably, reform measures will continue to be introduced to the legislature, and, most likely changes will occur. With all of this unpredictability, it is essential to have experienced attorneys who can explain the present status of alimony awards in Florida and who can advise you on how these impact your particular case.