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Understanding Alimony in Florida: Factors and Differences between Long-Term and Short-Term Marriages

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Divorce is a challenging and emotional process, often accompanied by financial complexities. One of the key aspects that spouses need to navigate is alimony, also known as spousal support.


Alimony is a court-ordered payment made by one spouse to the other after a divorce, intended to provide financial support and help maintain a certain standard of living. In Florida, the determination of alimony is based on several factors, including the duration of the marriage and the financial circumstances of each spouse. Let's explore how alimony works in Florida and the differences between a long-term, a moderate-term marriage, and short-term marriages.


Alimony refers to court-ordered payments made by one spouse to the other after a divorce, intended to provide financial support and help maintain a certain standard of living. In Florida, the determination of alimony is based on several factors, including the duration of the marriage and the financial circumstances of each spouse. Let's delve into how alimony works in Florida, along with the differences between long-term, moderate-term, and short-term marriages.


Some Factors Considered in Alimony Determination:


1. Length of the Marriage: The duration of the marriage plays a crucial role in determining alimony. Florida law categorizes marriages into three main types:


a. Short-Term Marriages: Short-term marriages are typically those that last less than 7 years. In these cases, the court may be hesitant to award permanent alimony unless there are exceptional circumstances.


b. Moderate-Term Marriages: Moderate-term marriages fall between short-term and long-term marriages, typically ranging from 7 to 17 years (although some courts have determined that moderate marriages may fall within 7-15 years as well). The court considers the specific circumstances of the case to determine an appropriate alimony award.


c. Long-Term Marriages: Long-term marriages generally exceed 15 years. In these cases, the court is more likely to award permanent alimony if it is warranted based on the financial needs and disparities between the spouses, such as profession, education and health condition.


2. Income and Earning Capacity: The court examines the income and earning potential of each spouse. If one spouse earns significantly more or possesses greater earning capacity, alimony may be awarded to the other spouse to help bridge the financial gap and maintain a similar lifestyle post-divorce.


3. Standard of Living: The court considers the standard of living established during the marriage. If one spouse is unable to sustain that standard of living independently after the divorce, alimony may be awarded to help them meet their financial needs.


4. Financial Resources and Expenses: The court evaluates the financial resources and expenses of each spouse. This includes analyzing their income, assets, debts, and monthly living expenses to determine their ability to support themselves.


5. Contributions to the Marriage: The court assesses the contributions made by each spouse during the marriage. This includes financial contributions, as well as non-economic contributions such as homemaking, child-rearing, and supporting the other spouse's career advancement.


Differences between Long-Term, Moderate-Term, and Short-Term Marriages and the some forms of alimony that may apply:


1. Duration: The primary difference lies in the duration of the marriage. As stated earlier, the obvious differences are in how long the marriage lasted. There is a gray area in determining length of marriage, especially when we factors in when the parties phsycially separated, when the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed and at times when the case was finalized.


2. Presumption of Permanent Alimony: In short-term marriages, there is a presumption against awarding permanent alimony. However, in moderate-term and long-term marriages, permanent alimony may be considered if one spouse can demonstrate a significant need for on-going financial support.


3. Bridge-the-Gap and Durational Alimony: Short-term and moderate-term marriages often result in the awarding of bridge-the-gap or durational alimony.


a. Bridge-the-gap alimony aims to help the recipient spouse transition financially from married to single life.


b. Durational alimony, on the other hand, is awarded for a specific period, often based on the length of the marriage.


4. Rehabilitative and Permanent Alimony: In long-term marriages, rehabilitative and permanent alimony


It's important to note that these differences are not absolute, and each case is evaluated individually based on its unique circumstances. The court has discretion in determining the appropriate type, duration, and amount of alimony based on the specific details presented.

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