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July 14, 2012

Alimony in Florida

The Florida legislation is attempting to bring uniformity to the subject of alimony in Florida.

New legislation now objectively defines a marriage as short term, long term, and moderate term. If a marriage is 7 years or less, it is short term. If the marriage is 17 years or more, it is long term. Anywhere in between, it is a marriage of moderate length.

The length of the marriage is important, since the type of alimony available depends upon the length of the marriage.

Florida Statute 61.08 is the alimony statute in Florida. There are four main types of alimony in Florida, as follows:

Bridge-the- gap alimony

Rehabilitative alimony

Durational alimony

Permanent alimony

Bridge-the-gap alimony may not exceed a term of 2 years, and is not subject to modification as to the length or the amount of the award.

Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to a party to assist them in obtaining the capacity for self support.

Durational alimony is generally awarded when permanent alimony is inappropriate. Durational alimony can be awarded for a maximum number of years equal to the length of the marriage.

Permanent alimony is generally reserved for those cases in excess of 17 years in length, and is awarded to an individual who lacks the ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life.

These are all generalizations, and each case must be considered on a case by case basis. I have over 30 years of experience involving cases dealing with alimony,of all kinds, and can offer you the appropriate guidance to resolve your case quickly and efficiently.

March 25, 2012

Alimony Reform in Florida

There has been much discussion in Florida regarding alimony reform, but it has not arrived just yet.

In order to understand the future of alimony, you have to be familiar with the current laws in Florida regarding alimony. Alimony is governed by Florida Statute 61.08. The initial step for a judge in deciding whether to award alimony or not is to first determine the need of one party versus the ability of the other party to meet that need.

1377964_tightened_100_dollar_roll_.jpgOnce that bridge has been crossed, the court will then decide on what type of alimony is appropriate under the specific facts of the case.

The award of alimony has become a bit more objective in recent years, since the length of a marriage is critical to the type and nature of an award of alimony.

Florida defines a short term marriage as any marriage under 7 years in duration. A long term marriage is a marriage over 17 years in duration. Anything in between is a moderate term marriage.

Why is the length of the marriage important? Simply because there are certain presumptions in favor of a particular type of alimony, based upon the duration of the marriage. For example, there is a presumption in favor of permanent alimony when you have a long term marriage.

In circumstances when permanent alimony may not be appropriate, durational alimony may be awarded by the court. Durational alimony may not exceed the number of years that the parties were married.

In short term marriages, bridge-the-gap or rehabilitative alimony may be more appropriate.

Bridge the gap alimony may not exceed a period of 2 years duration.

Recent efforts to modify the existing alimony laws in Florida did not come to pass during the most recent legislative session in 2012. To get an idea where Florida is heading, review of the House Bill which was proposed, but which failed, will shed some light on this matter.

House Bill 549 attempted to do away with permanent alimony, and changed the category to "long term alimony." Additionally, the amount of any alimony award was capped out at 20% of the payor's net monthly income, which was averaged out over the past three (3) years.

A long term marriage, under the proposal, involves a marriage over 20 years, rather than the existing 17 year marriage. In considering an award of durational alimony, the award cannot exceed 50% of the number of years the parties were married.

Although this bill did not pass, it should give you an idea of the future direction of alimony in the state of Florida.

December 31, 2010

Temporary support....how much is really needed?

In a case recently decided, a wife was awarded an astounding sum of $75,000.00 per month for temporary support for herself and her child. Stanton v. Stanton, 2D10-919 (2010).

The appellate court said this amount simply could not stand, as the amount was not supported by competent substantial evidence.

The trial court should consider the standard of living in addition to the need of one spouse and the other spouse's ability to pay. de Gutierrez v. Gutierrez, 19 So.3d 1110, 1113 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009).

Here, in this case, the wife had testified that her monthly expenses totaled $44,029, including those of her child. Her financial affidavit also indicated her monthly expenses to total $44,029. It was clear to the appellate court that the trial judge had erred in making an award of $75,000 per month for the wife when the evidence reflected that the wife's needs were $44,029. Also CLICK HERE to visit my site for the most updated information on the new alimony laws in Florida.

The appellate court gave further instructions to the trial court that the award to the wife must be based upon her needs, and should not attempt "to fund the enjoyment of every
little luxury enjoyed before divorce." Levine v. Levine, 964 So.2d 741, 742-43 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).

The purpose of alimony is to provide for the less wealthy spouse above bare subsistence levels, not to fund the enjoyment of every little luxury enjoyed before divorce. "Fixing alimony at a profligate standard of living is to turn alimony into a lottery. That is one reason why the standard of living during marriage is not a super factor trumping all other factors in awarding alimony. Jaffy v. Jaffy, 965 So.2d 825, 828 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).
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Although the sum of $44,029, awarded to the wife on a monthly basis was certainly not a nominal amount, this case still clearly points out that the standard for temporary relief is clearly the needs of the requesting spouse versus the ability of the other spouse to meet those needs.