FloridaAlimony Guide - Spousal Support Laws
Florida Alimony Guide :: Table of Contents
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered provision of financial support a spouse for after a divorce. Alimony laws vary considerably from state to state, and courts often have significant flexibility on a case-by-case basis in determing whether to award alimony, how much alimony to award, and how long alimony payments will continue.
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How is Alimony Granted?
In the state of Florida, a court may grant alimony payments to be made to either party of a divorce agreement dependent on several deciding factors. In any form of alimony, the court may require periodic payments, payment in a lump sum, or any combination of both.
What Happens in the Case of a Fault Divorce?
If either spouse committed adultery, or in any other way directly caused the destruction of the marriage, the court may take these actions into consideration for alimony. When considering an alimony case, the court will first determine whether either spouse has a legitimate need for the support and whether the other spouse is monetarily capable of providing it. The court will also take into consideration the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, and the age and physical and mental condition of each party. The estate, including marital and no marital assets, liabilities, and earning potential of each spouse will also be a large factor in the decision of the court. The earning capacity of each spouse will be determined by considering the educational levels, vocational skills and market for the careers of each party of the divorce.
How Does Custody Factor into Alimony?
Custody of any children, and any child support required between parties of the divorce, are two other factors in the amount and consideration of spousal support. If the custodian of the child or children is unable to support themselves due to the children being of an age or condition that hinders the individual’s ability to support the child, such as if the spouse must remain home to care for the child, it would severely influence the case for alimony to be received by the custodian of said child or children.
How are Contributions Factored into Alimony?
The contribution to the well being of the marriage, including homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party, that each spouse made will affect the decision made by the court. Any other factor the court deems relevant to obtain equity and justice between the two parties will also be taken into consideration by the court.
What Happens if Both Parties Cannot Come to an Agreement?
If an agreement cannot be made between the two parties, alimony is awarded at the final judgment of the judge and court deciding the case.
In the state of Florida, a number of factors are taken into account when calculating the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support payments.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating alimony?
Florida has a defined list of factors, described in statutory law, that are legally required to be considered by a judge when determining alimony payments. These factors may be directly connected to the alimony calculation formula.
Is marital fault considered in Florida alimony?
Florida considers marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that "at-fault" divorces, which may be caused by infidelity / adultery, abuse, etc, can result in the at-fault party paying more "punitive" alimony.
Is standard of living considered in Florida alimony?
Standard of living is considered when calculating alimony payments in the state of Florida. This means that a judge will consider the lifestyle enjoyed by the alimony-receiving spouse during the duration of the marriage when determining an appropriate alimony payment amount.
Is custodial status considered when determining alimony in the state of Florida?
The judge in the state of Florida considers custodial status when determining alimony payments. This means that alimony calculations are affected by whether or not the receiving spouse has custody of the children, and custodial spouses may receive higher alimony payments.
How exactly is alimony calculated in the state of Florida?
Calculation of alimony is generally done on a case-by-case basis by the Florida family court judge who is responsible for the case. While some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, in most cases the final amount and duration of alimony awarded (if alimony is awarded) is at the discretion of the judge.
- How long must alimony be paid?
- The duration of payments is determined by a judge in Florida family court. Alimony length is usually based on length of marriage - one commonly used standard for alimony duration is that 1 year of alimony is paid every three years of marriage (however, this is not always the case in every state or with every judge). Alimony may also be discontinued upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In some cases, judges may even award permanent alimony.
- What happens if alimony isn't paid?
- If alimony is unpaid, the owed debt is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected via mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment. Failure to comply with a court-issued spousal support order may also result in a contempt of court charge against the spouse who failed to pay owed alimony.
- Can alimony be waived by a prenuptual agreement?
- A prenup agreement is a contract between spouses regarding marriage-related financial matters signed prior to marriage. Limitation or waiving rights to alimony is a frequent clause in modern prenuptual agreements, but some states or localities prohibit such alimony waivers.
- Can alimony be collected if you're not married?
- The legal concept of alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is dependant upon a legal marriage. However, in some areas - especially those with a concept of common-law marriage - "palimony", or support payments between non-married individuals, has been awarded by courts. However, this generally requires extenuating circumstances.
- What is alimony mediation?
When a marriage ends through divorce and alimony is expected to be paid, spouses have the choice to determine an alimony agreement either through litigation (in Florida family court) or through mutual agreement. Often, a Florida alimony mediator can be brought in to help the ex-spouses come to a mutual agreement regarding alimony and other contested issues such as property division, and thus avoid having to go to court.
- How are alimony payments taxed?
On a federal level, all qualifying Florida alimony payments are deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income by the recipient. To qualify as alimony under IRS guidelines, the following must be true:
- The payments are in cash
- The parties live in seperate households
- The payments are strictly for alimony (as opposed to for child support, etc)
Taxation of alimony varies on a state and local level. You can learn more about Florida income taxes here .