What Determines the Length of Alimony Payments?

Going through a divorce can be very stressful. There are a number of life-altering circumstances that can add to this stress. Your job, living situation, family, or mutual relationships can all be affected in some way. Of course, changes in your finances could be one of the biggest forms of anxiety. That’s why it’s important to know where you stand when it comes to alimony. But, what is alimony exactly? And what determines the length of alimony payments? Below we examine the answers to these questions as well as other valuable information about alimony.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is a court-ordered payment a spouse gives to a former spouse in the case of divorce or legal separation. Alimony is also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance. The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support for the spouse with little or no income. Generally, the amount of alimony paid is assessed by the divorcing couple’s standard of living. The amount paid should permit a lifestyle similar to what the couple had prior to the divorce. However, there are a lot of other variables that go into determining the amount of the alimony payments and the length of alimony payments. Below is a breakdown of how alimony payments are classified in the state of Florida.

Length of Alimony Payments in Florida

Florida has five different classifications of alimony that will determine the length of alimony payments. These five types of alimony are: temporary, durational, rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap, and permanent. As you can tell from their titles, these various forms of alimony all define the actual length of alimony payments. Of course, each case is unique and the duration and amount of payments might already be agreed upon by the couple. Normally, a judge will determine if alimony should be granted as well as the length of the alimony payment.

Temporary Alimony
Temporary alimony is also referred to as “pendente lite”, which translates to “during litigation.” This means that one spouse is required to pay alimony only for the duration of the divorce process. The main purpose of temporary alimony is for the lower wage earner to be able to support themselves, but only during the divorce. When the divorce becomes finalized, the alimony payments stop.

Durational Alimony
If all other forms of alimony are deemed insufficient by the court, then durational alimony may be granted. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide financial security for the spouse making little to no money. However, the length of alimony payments depends on the length of the marriage. For instance, if you’re married for fifteen years, you can only receive payments for fifteen years. If you’re granted durational alimony, you can’t receive payments for any longer than that.

Rehabilitative Alimony
Rehabilitative alimony is when an individual is awarded payments while he or she carries out a plan to be financially independent. The length of alimony payments will depend on the actual timeline of this plan. These payments may go to training programs or tuition for college. The recipient will need to devise an actual strategy for becoming financially secure and will have to present this to the courts. This plan will have to have a set timeline and need to be a realistic goal for financial independence.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony
This form of alimony is considered the most short-term form of payment. The purpose of bridge-the-gap alimony is to cover the transitional period after a divorce. For instance, the length of alimony payments could cover moving to a new home or finding a new job in a different location. The maximum amount of time for these types of payments is two years. The purpose of this form of payment is to only supplement the lower income earner for a short amount of time.

Permanent Alimony
Permanent alimony is when a judge grants one spouse unending payments. There are a few different cases when permanent alimony may be granted. If the individual suffers from a disability, alimony payments will be permanent. If the judge sees any reason why this person can’t financial care for themselves, this form of alimony will most likely be rewarded.

Ask the Legal Experts

Regardless if you’re receiving alimony or paying alimony, it’s important for these rulings to be fair. If you feel as though the amount you’ve been rewarded is significantly less than your standard of living, it’s recommended to speak to an attorney. You should also contact an attorney if you believe you’re paying alimony in an unjust circumstance. An alimony lawyer in Florida can help you determine if you’ve been granted too little, or if you’re required to pay too much for too long. If you think a judge has unfairly put you in a position with regards to alimony, contact help today.

By: Tina Lewert

Attorney Tina L. Lewert is an experienced Florida Board Certified Marital and Family Law Specialist who works with clients to resolve family law issues including child custody, visitation, and parenting issues, and child support, alimony, and marital agreements. Ms. Lewert earned her undergraduate degree at Florida Atlantic University and her J.D. from the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center in Fort Lauderdale.