Florida law allows courts to award alimony in any divorce case. However, not all divorce cases are subject to alimony awards, nor are there clear guidelines as to how much such an award will be or how long it will last. Florida's laws on alimony are complicated and subject to judicial interpretation, so talk to a qualified Florida family lawyer if you need legal advice about an alimony issue in the state.
Florida Statutes section 61.08 details the kinds of alimony a court may award in a Florida divorce. The court has the ability to award rehabilitative, directional, permanent or "bridge the gap" alimony at its discretion. These awards can be made to last indefinitely or they can terminate upon a specific date or condition. Also, the court can decide to award periodic payments or lump-sum payments as it deems appropriate.
Florida courts must consider all relevant factors whenever determining how much alimony to award in a divorce case. Florida Statutes section 61.08(2) lists the factors the court must consider in awarding alimony. These include how long the marriage lasted, each spouses standard of living during the marriage and the financial abilities and earning capacities of each spouse. The court can also weigh any other factor that it deems necessary in the interests of equity and justice between the spouses.
Florida Statutes section 61.08(8) states that a court can award permanent alimony if a spouse lacks the ability to provide for his or her own needs and meet the necessities of life that were established by the couple during the marriage. Such alimony can be awarded in marriages that lasted seven years or longer, though the courts may not award such alimony in any marriage that lasted less than seven years unless exceptional circumstances are present.
Modification and Termination
Florida alimony awards last as long as the court orders, or until the order is changed or an intervening event takes place. Florida Statutes section 61.08(8) states that permanent alimony continues until either the paying party or the recipient dies, or the recipient remarries. Also, a court can modify any alimony payments as long as one party shows that a substantial change in circumstances has taken place such that justifies a modification.
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