Clearwater Divorcees May Have to Pay Significant Amounts for Alimony. People With the State of Florida Are Working to Change This. | Yeazell and Sweet

Alimony can become a huge expense for individuals who are ordered to make these payments. One of the best ways to avoid these problems is to have an experienced family lawyer help you during the initial divorce proceedings and argue for a fair result on your behalf.

Because of the controversy associated with having to pay large sums of money to another adult after a divorce, and the belief that this concept may be outdated, Florida, along with other states, has experienced attempts to reform alimony and spousal support laws over the years.

Florida groups attempt to change alimony laws and eliminate permanent alimony

One prominent alimony horror story in Florida involved a 64 year old woman who was paying her ex-husband 65 percent of her income for 16 years. Their entire marriage only lasted 13 years. She was ordered to pay her husband permanent alimony, even though he has a college education and would be capable of finding some kind of reasonable employment to support himself. She also sold her previous car and home, and has been gradually moving into smaller living spaces over the years, to save money. She believes that her former husband is deliberately choosing not to work given their situation.

Her story is also unique because 97 percent of all alimony payers are men rather than women. Absurd results such as this are one of the reasons many individuals and lobby groups have pushed for reforms.

Opponents of the bill say that women who have given up careers to be homemakers or stay at home mothers during long term marriages would be most negatively affected. These opponents argue that after a divorce, these women would have difficulty beginning a career, experience diminished job prospects, and likely not make enough money to support all of their expenses later in life. There are also other issues with the bill as it deals with custody issues, placing all of the changes into one piece of legislation. Many prefer that the issues be listed separately in different bills, rather than all being passed at the same time.

How is alimony determined in Florida?

Marriages are generally divided into short term, medium length, and long term marriages. Short term marriages are less than seven years and long term marriages are more than 17 years. The state has a calculator that can consider the income of both spouses along with other factors, such as the length of the marriage, to determine a maintenance payment (also called alimony). The calculator, however, has not been ratified by Florida Statutes, thus leaving substantial discretion with the Courts. Short term marriages have a presumption against alimony, which means that it is generally not considered unless there are other relevant factors that indicate maintenance payments are necessary.

Child support is also considered separately and generally does not affect alimony determinations. However, a divorced spouse who owes both alimony and child support can end up losing a significant percentage of their income every month.

Types of alimony payments

There are a few different categories of alimony that may be awarded. These classifications are mostly related to the length of the marriage and the financial need of the spouse who earned less throughout the marriage.

Temporary alimony is usually only awarded for a short time during the divorce proceedings while all matters related to dissolving the marriage are finalized. These payments terminate once the divorce order is in place and the marriage has formally ended.

There have been recent changes that allow for alimony of a specific duration. These types of payments are essentially financial assistance for a specific time period determined by the court. After this provisional period ends, so does durational alimony, and the spouses are no longer financially intertwined.

Rehabilitative alimony is meant to help the spouse who earns less to develop a plan regarding issues such as education, training, or employment for a certain duration of time. If the spouse completes this course of action, or the judge determines the payments are no longer necessary, rehabilitative alimony payments can end.

Permanent alimony is the most controversial form of alimony. A judge can order the spouse with more earning power to make payments that maintain the marital standard of living until the receiving spouse remarries or one of them dies. Many people feel that this form of alimony incentivizes people to stop working, or never remarry, if they know they will receive guaranteed income simply because they were married at some point in the past.

Talk to a lawyer who specializes in alimony and related issues

Clearwater family law attorneys routinely deal with divorces, child support, child custody, alimony, and related issues. Yeazell and Sweet are experts in this field, and they are available to provide quality legal representation.