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A show of support: awarding alimony during a divorce

When a marriage comes to an end in the state of Florida through divorce court, the time has come for the "Great Divide" -- the distribution of marital assets. Assets are divided equitably, which means the court presumes a 50/50 split of the marital assets is a fair division, but from there may consider an uneven distribution if that is deemed to be more appropriate to the individual financial situations. Unfortunately, sometimes an equitable division does not leave one spouse with enough to support him or herself.

Therefore, after asset division is settled, there is also the chance of alimony being awarded, should it be requested and the court agree to its necessity. The requesting spouse will have to prove both a need for support and the ability of the other spouse to pay. If one spouse is requesting alimony from the other, he or she has the right to any information available about income through discovery. Discovery may take the form of oral interrogation, Q&A forms or requests for documents.

Types of alimony available in Florida

Once the ability to pay alimony has been determined, the court will then decide on the amount and type of alimony to be awarded. There are numerous types of alimony a judge may choose from, including:

  • Bridge-the gap alimony - a short-term award to ease the transition from married to single
  • Rehabilitative alimony - an award specifically to assist in creating self-sufficiency through skills re-development, education or training
  • Durational alimony - a finite period of time is set for this type of support if permanent support is not needed
  • Permanent alimony - normally only awarded at the end of a long-term marriage, which is defined as being a minimum of 17 years in length

What factors will affect an alimony award?

In making a decision, the judge will consider a variety of factors, such as the length of the marriage. Three durational definitions are recognized in Florida: short-term, which is a marriage of less than seven years; moderate-term, defined as greater than seven years but less than 17 years; and the aforementioned long-term marriage.

Other factors include the established standard of living, age of the spouses, emotional and physical requirements of both parties, how long it may take for the recipient spouse to become self-sufficient, each spouse's financial resources and income, and time spent in the pursuit of child-rearing, homemaking and supporting the development of the other spouse.

Going to court unprepared could be risky

If you're heading to court to discuss alimony, arriving prepared could pay major future dividends. Taking the time to document your situation, and that of your spouse, will help significantly increase the odds that a reasonable award is given.

A skilled Florida attorney might be your most valuable asset in a divorce case. Diligent attention to detail and experience with all aspects of divorce may help matters to proceed efficiently and toward a positive ending.

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