Alimony is a regular and set payment made by a supporting spouse to a dependent spouse.
Historically, it has been the man who has paid the alimony and the woman who has received it. However, over the years that has changed as more women have become the supporting spouse.
Regardless of who pays, the amount will depend on a number of circumstances to be determined by the court. Generally speaking, the court takes into consideration how long the marriage lasted, what each spouse makes, how much is spent, what kind of money is needed for the receiving spouse to maintain the standard of living to which they have become accustomed, the physical and emotional state of each spouse, earning capacity of both parties, and the financial responsibilities each will have with regard to minor children.
There are several different types of alimony:
Rehabilitative alimony: This is a temporary, but fixed form of spousal support paid for a specific amount of time. It is designed to help a spouse adjust financially following a divorce. It is usually modifiable as circumstances for either spouse change. For example, a spouse receiving alimony may return to school to learn a new skill that will allow him or her to get a job. There are a number of other factors that the court can take into consideration so it’s always best to consult with an attorney before accepting rehabilitative alimony.
Lump sum support: As its name suggests, this alimony is a fixed amount that is paid all at once. The amount generally is equal to the total amount of future monthly payments. This is the only form of alimony that cannot be modified so it’s always best to discuss with a divorce attorney before agreeing to it. In addition, you may want to speak with a tax professional because it may create significant tax consequences.
Durational alimony: This type of alimony can be awarded to a spouse to provide them with financial help for a set period of time if the couple had been married for a shorter period of time. This is considered a solution for those who don’t qualify for permanent alimony, but who need more than just rehabilitative alimony.
Bridge-the-gap alimony: This is another form of short-term alimony that can’t exceed more than two years. It is designed to help a spouse transition financially from married to single life. Someone seeking bridge-the-gap alimony must prove a “legitimate identifiable short-term need.” What that means will depend on the individual facts of the case. Once awarded it cannot be modified.
Temporary alimony: This form of alimony is awarded to cover a spouse’s needs from the time the dissolution of marriage petition is filed until a judge enters a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. It can be replaced by other forms of alimony.
Permanent alimony: This type of support is paid for an indefinite period of time. This does not, however, mean that it can’t be changed. Permanent alimony generally is awarded to those in longer-term marriages. The court usually looks at a spouse’s earning capacity, age, health status, and how much the recipient contributed to their spouse’s education or career. To modify permanent alimony you must petition the court for a change. Many states have passed legislation designed to do away with life-long alimony. Florida passed alimony reform in 2013 only to have Gov. Rick Scott veto it. Proponents of alimony reform say they hope to return to the Florida Legislature to seek passage of new legislation in the future.
Whether you are paying or receiving alimony it’s important to know your rights. Sustainable Family Solutions works with both those who pay and those who receive spousal support. If you are interested in a consultation or have questions do not hesitate to contact Sustainable Family Solutions. Simply click here and send us a message and we will get right back to you.