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Alimony/Spousal Support

Alimony also known as spousal support, are payments made from one spouse to the other. These payments can be either court ordered or agreed on mutually by the parties involved. The purpose of Alimony may be to meet the financial need of one of the spouses or to help achieve a fair division of assets.

Types of Spousal Support

Alimony can be granted for a multitude of reasons. Generally, people qualify for spousal support based on their capacity to earn, how much their spouse earns and the standard of living during the marriage — though there are exceptions and special circumstances. There are many types of alimony that can be ordered by the court for a number of reasons. The main types of alimony are

  • Temporary—Payments made to help maintain the status quo of the marriage while the couple is apart but not yet divorced.
  • Permanent Periodic Alimony—Regularly recurring payments that usually last until one of the spouses passes away or the receiving spouse remarries. Typically the court considers the length of the marriage and any disparity in income between the spouses when issuing this type of alimony. These payments are not usually issued in marriages lasting less than 7 years, and are dependent on the circumstances involved—age of the parties, health, young children, etc. The amount of these payments can be reduced if the recipient is cohabitating with someone who is financially supporting them.
  • Rehabilitative—payments designed to help a spouse become self sufficient. These payments might be made to support the recipient while they are receiving education or training, such as: college, vocational programs, etc.
  • Bridge the gap—Short term payments designed to help the recipient transition to being self sufficient. For instance the spouse might need some time to get a job, money for moving out expenses, finding another place to live or buy furniture. Usually this type of alimony is not used for more than a year or two.
  • Lump sum—One-time payment made from one party to the other. These may consist of money, the marital home, or a combination of marital assets. In some circumstances lump sum payments might be made in lieu of permanent periodic alimony when hostilities between the parties are so great that periodic payments are impractical, or when one of the spouses is expected to die prematurely.

Determining Alimony

Unlike child support, there are no mathematical calculations or formulas to determine alimony payments. The court will determine on a case by case basis if one spouse is eligible for spousal support payments. Some of the factors that a court will use to determine the eligibility type and amount of payments are:

  • The financial resources of the spouse seeking alimony, including both separate and marital property and liabilities.
  • The spouse's ability to meet his or her needs independently.
  • The education and employment skills of the spouses.
  • The time necessary for the supported spouse to acquire sufficient training or education to enable him or her to find employment.
  • The availability and feasibility of that training.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking alimony.
  • The ability of the supporting spouse to meet their own needs and make any child support payments..
  • The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits, and any separate property.
  • The contribution of one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse.
  • The contribution of either spouse as homemaker.
  • Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her needs.
  • The efforts of the spouse seeking alimony to obtain self-support skills while the divorce is pending or during any separation.
  • Property brought to the marriage by either spouse.
  • Any tax ramifications.

If you are going through a divorce, or seeking to change your current spousal support situation, contact our Broward County Office at (954) 380-6000.