Many people in the divorce process wonder whether they will have to pay money to or receive money from their former spouse. Most people have heard of the terms “alimony” or “spousal support.” But, most people are not sure whether these terms mean the same thing or something different.
In Florida, there is no difference between the terms “alimony” and “spousal support.” Alimony is a more dated term originating from the Latin word “alimonia,” meaning “food, nourishment, nurture, upbringing.” Usually, the term alimony was associated with a husband paying support to a wife.
The term “spousal support” is the more modern phrase for alimony. Additionally, “spousal support” is a gender-neutral term, indicative of the law’s evolving understanding of spouse support (i.e., that husbands, not just wives, may also be awarded support). “Spousal support” is stripped of any connotation that only wives should receive support; rather, “spousal support” suggests that either spouse can receive support.
How is Spousal Support Determined in Florida?
Florida courts consider many factors when determining which spouse, if any, has to pay spousal support and how much.
Some of those factors include:
- The length of the marriage;
- The spouses’ standard of living during the marriage;
- Whether a spouse gave up certain opportunities (earning, education, professional) for the sake of the marriage;
- The spouses’ health;
- Whether there was abuse or domestic violence.
The spouses’ lawyers make arguments regarding these factors and other factors that are relevant to the spousal support issue. In the end, it is up to the judge to determine a spousal support situation that is fair to the spouses.
Types of Spousal Support in Florida
According to Florida divorce law, there are five situations where spousal support may be awarded. Importantly, a judge may award any combination of these spousal support payments. Furthermore, a judge may order that spousal support be paid periodically (i.e., monthly) or in one lump sum.
- Temporary spousal support. Temporary spousal support is awarded during the divorce proceedings and ends when the court enters the final judgment.
- Bridge-the-gap spousal support. This type of support focuses on what each spouse may need to successfully transition from being married to being single. It considers bills and other foreseeable expenses that a spouse may have as a single person.
- Rehabilitative spousal support. Rehabilitative support is similar to bridge-the-gap support because it is short-term and transitional. Specifically, rehabilitative support focuses on the time a spouse may need to advance their education or find appropriate employment.
- Durational spousal support. In Florida, durational support may be awarded in short-term or moderate-term marriages. Durational support covers a set amount of time determined by the court. This type of support cannot last longer than the spouses’ marriage.
- Permanent spousal support. Permanent support is typically awarded in moderate and long-term marriages where one of the spouses gave up a career for the sake of the marriage and now they are unable to find appropriate employment to support themselves after the divorce. Permanent support usually lasts until the receiving spouse either passes away or is re-married.
What Should You Do if Your Spouse Files for Divorce and Seeks Spousal Support?
If your spouse files for divorce and wants to receive spousal support from you, you should first hire an experienced Florida divorce lawyer. Being represented by a divorce lawyer with experience dealing with spousal support can be a great asset. Experienced divorce lawyers will be able to determine what amount, if any, is fair for spousal support.
They may even be able to make an argument that you should not have to pay any spousal support. You also need to make a realistic assessment of your household’s working and financial situation.
Does your spouse work at all? Did your spouse give up going to college, working, or promotions for the sake of your marriage? Did they give all of those things up so that you could continue your education or be eligible for a promotion? Did you work the entire marriage so that your spouse could stay home? These are all important questions that the judge will likely consider when determining spousal support.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law, PLLC for Help Today
Conti Moore Law, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803