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How does a Florida court determine alimony?

Under current Florida law for alimony to be granted, first and foremost a court must factually determine if one party in a dissolution proceeding has an actual need for spousal support or alimony, and if the other party has the ability to pay it. The court will specifically note why alimony was granted or denied. If granted, alimony will be either bridge-the-gap, durational, rehabilitative or permanent. The payments can either be periodic, lump sum or both.

Since parties will transition from being married to single life, bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded on a short-term basis to help with the transition and will not exceed two years. Additionally, this type of alimony will automatically terminate if one of the parties dies within that period or if the party who is getting the alimony remarries. Rehabilitative alimony on the other is meant to get a party back up on their feet and be self-sufficient by getting additional training or certifications and to become employable. Durational alimony is awarded when permanent alimony is not appropriate and depends on the length of the marriage, and need. Permanent alimony will depend on the duration of marriage and then all the factors below.

When making a determination of the type of alimony and amount, the court takes into consideration numerous factors. These include the length of the marriage, how the couple lived together in essence their standard of living during marriage, the age of the parties at the time of the divorce, their emotional and physical health status at the time of the divorce, their liabilities and debt, both marital and non-marital assets, their education levels, earning abilities, sacrifices one party may have made during marriage to raise a family, their ability to get a job, their parental responsibilities with respect to any minor child following the divorce, the tax implications for awarding alimony and any other sources of income to which the parties may have access.

Additionally, the courts considers any other relevant factors which will ensure that an award of alimony is equitable, fair and just for both parties involved.

Source: Florida Legislature, "Chapter 61, Section 61.08 - Alimony," Accessed June 1, 2015

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