What is Alimony?
Alimony is Court order spousal support payments made on behalf of the paying spouse to the payee spouse. Usually, the longer the length of marriage and the greater the disparity in income between the two spouses, the larger the amount of spousal support ordered.
What Factors Matter to the Court?
The Court has wide discretion in coming up with the amount and term of alimony to be paid. However, there are certain factors that must be considered, including:
Need and Ability Pay
A threshold question in any alimony case: Does one party have the need and the other party the ability to pay. If the courts find that the payor spouse does not have an ability to pay, then alimony will either not be ordered or nominal alimony will be ordered while granting the payee spouse the ability to come back to court later and move for an increase if the payee spouses income increases.
Standard of Living
The standard of living of the parties during the marriage is evidence of need of one of the parties and evidence of the other’s ability to pay. In other words, the Courts will consider what the dependent spouse has become, “accustomed to” during the marriage. However, more than ever, Courts are recognizing that both of the parties will likely see their standards of living decrease after divorce. After all, there will be twice the mortgages, utility bills, ect. to be paid.
Duration of Marriage
The length of the marriage bears a direct relationship on the decision of how much alimony if any to be awarded. There is a rebuttable presumption that a marriage of less than seven (7) years is short term, between seven (7) and seventeen (17) is moderate, and a long term is a duration of 17 years or greater. Permanent periodic alimony may be awarded following a long term marriage, a medium marriage if appropriate, and a short term marriage only under exceptional circumstances.
Age and Conditions of the Parties
Alimony is appropriate when a party can demonstrate that he or she will be unable to become self supporting in the future because of age or physical or emotional condition. The court needs to consider the age and physical condition of both parties. However, the alimony award must be based on current present conditions, not speculative conditions of what might happen in the future.
The Parties Financial Resources
The court must consider the financial resources of the parties, including both marital and non-marital assets and liabilities.
The Courts are rarely sympathetic to the payor spouse who intentionally does not work while the tampa divorce is pending. The Court may impute income if appropriate on the spouse who is intentionally keeping his income low.
Earning Capacity and Time Required To Obtain Training Or Education
This is more important when it comes to rehabilitative alimony (see below). However, in all cases the court must consider the earning capabilities, educational levels, and employability of the parties, and when applicable the time needed for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to find appropriate employment.
Contributions to the Marriage
The courts recognize that the raising children and running a household are often just as important and difficult as the breadwinner role. In a traditional american division of roles, the man will go out and work and the woman will stay home, tend to the house, and raise the kids. The contribution by the woman to the marriage will not be discounted, and the Courts will consider the work she did in computing her alimony.
Alimony and spouse abuse may be considered factors in awarding alimony. However, only martial misconduct that depletes the marital assets is relevant for alimony purposes. Even outrageous, reprehensible conduct by a party does not justify alimony unless it causes financial waste.
With that said, some courts interpret this rigidly, and others more liberally. Some courts have held that, where the wife had a long history of abuse and drug abuse, the abuse may have contributed to marital waste because marital money would have been used to pay for the drugs, attorney fees for domestic violence charges, ect. Other courts may take a more narrow interpretation of the rule.
How Long Will I Have to Pay Alimony?
Much like the amount of alimony ordered by the Court the duration of alimony is in the hands of the Judge. However, the law gives us certain parameters with which the Judge needs to work around:
Permanent Periodic Alimony: Exactly as it sounds. This is permanent in nature and will continue until further order of the Court. Often, the payor spouse will need to go back to court at retirement to have the Court readdress the situation. Ideally, the payor spouse will attempt to negotiate a non-permanent alimony resolution, such as durational alimony.
Durational Alimony: More appropriate in medium term marriages, durational alimony is for a term of years. This can be negotiated in settlement meetings by your Tampa Alimony Attorney.
Rehabilitative Alimony: A remedy used by the Courts when one party needs education or some other rehabilitation to get a head start on the independent life. Often expensive on the paying spouse in the short term, as the Courts may consider tutition, fees, books, and living expenses while the payee spouse is going to school.
Bridge-the-Gap: Useful in scenarios where one spouse needs to “bridge the gap” between her life of being supported to her life of independence. Usually short term in nature.
Contact a Tampa Alimony Attorney or Spousal Support Lawyer in Tampa Today
Call 813.554.3232 to discuss your alimony matter with a Tampa Alimony Attorney today. Ask to speak directly to a Tampa Alimony Attorney.