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Your alimony rights: The Florida basics

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If you are getting divorced you are likely highly stressed and certainly concerned about your family’s finances and future. We understand; you are not alone. To help you to achieve some peace of mind and to sleep better at night, we are providing this article, Your Alimony Rights: The Florida Basics, for your review.For specific legal advice about your individual situation, consult with a qualified Florida family law attorney.

Why Alimony is Granted

Florida law provides alimony (i.e. support payments) when necessary to keep one of the spouses from becoming impoverished after divorce. Alimony is different from, but related to, property settlement (equitable distribution).

You and Your Spouse Can Determine Alimony Payments

You and your spouse have the opportunity to come to an agreement on alimony (and other related matters such as property settlement, child custody and visitation, and child support.) If you are unwilling or unable to come to an agreement, the court will analyze the case; and, if the court deems appropriate, it will order alimony to be paid.

You and your spouse have more control over alimony if you come to an agreement on your own, through your family law attorneys, and without court determination. However, because of the emotional intensity of the situation, this can be difficult; legal guidance is imperative to keep the peace and make sure each spouse is treated fairly.

Forms of Alimony

Alimony may be monthly payments, a lump sum, or a combination of both. Moreover, alimony can be ordered on a permanent basis. Alternatively, alimony may be ordered as rehabilitative, meaning financial support is provided until a spouse can be retrained, educated, and/or find employment. For shorter periods of time, a court may order “bridge the gap” alimony to help a needy spouse transition to post-divorce life. It is possible for the court to require life insurance or bond to assure that alimony is paid in the event of death under certain circumstances.

Court Considerations

When determining an appropriate alimony award, the court considers:

  • The marital standard of living
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • The education and work experience of each spouse as well as the time needed to obtain education and/or training to find appropriate employment
  • Financial resources, assets, and income of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including homemaking, raising children, working to support the other through education, and assistance in career building of the other spouse
  • Although Florida divorces are considered “no fault”, Florida courts do consider adultery when determining alimony to the extent that an adulterous spouse has spent marital funds on the illicit relationship.

Tax Deductibility of Alimony

The tax deductibility of alimony should be considered when negotiating an agreement with your spouse. Generally, the paying spouse deducts alimony from his or her income for tax purposes, and the receiving spouse must claim it as income. The parties can agree to make alimony non-taxable and non-deductible.

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