Bridge-the-Gap Alimony in Jacksonville

The Purpose of Bridge-the-Gap Alimony in Florida

According to Florida Statute § 61.08, the court may grant alimony in one of six ways—including permanent, temporary, rehabilitative, durational, lump sum or bridge-the-gap. Each was designed to provide the "dependent spouse" with economic support for a certain period of time, depending on their specific financial needs at the time of their divorce.

For example, rehabilitative alimony may be awarded if one spouse needs time to become self-sustaining—either by bolstering their education or undergoing training that would be necessary to re-enter the workforce. Similar to this, bridge-the-gap alimony was designed to assist one spouse with "legitimate identifiable short-term needs" while they make the transition from being married to becoming single.

In some cases, these short-term needs may include basic living expenses while they wait for their house to sell. In other cases, one spouse may need support from their former husband or wife while they complete a retaining program that would allow for more significant employment prospects.

Each case is different, as each couple faces a unique set of circumstances during their divorce, but it is important to understand that the stipulations surrounding bridge-the-gap alimony are fairly concrete. For example, under no circumstance will this form of spousal support exceed two years, nor will the either party be able to seek a modification from the court once it has been awarded. For this reason, it is imperative that you work out a suitable arrangement before the order is finalized.

Would alimony payments be terminated upon death or remarriage?

Under the law, bridge-the-gap alimony is subject to certain restrictions—one of them being that the paying spouse would be freed of their obligation to provide alimony payments if their former spouse has suffered an untimely death.

The same would also apply if the paying spouse were to pass away before the court-order duration of spousal support expired. In addition to this, remarriage on the part of the receiving spouse would also constitute a termination of bridge-the-gap alimony, as it would be assumed that the new spouse would be able to provide some level of financial support. Since there are numerous rules and provisions that surround this form of spousal support, I encourage you to speak with the Jacksonville divorce lawyers at my firm if you have any further questions.

Can I modify the amount or duration of bridge-the-gap alimony?

As stated in Florida Statute § 61.08(5), an award of bridge-the-gap alimony "shall not be modifiable in amount or duration." This means that the conditions of the spousal support order will be final once they have been set forth by the court. Since it is only intended to provide the receiving spouse with economic assistance for short-term needs, modification would be strictly prohibited—unlike most other forms of alimony in Florida. When the court orders maintenance that is durational, rehabilitative or permanent, for example, they have considered that one or both of the party's needs could change over this extended period of time. When it comes to bridge-the-gap alimony, however, it is understood that this form of support is temporary—thus not necessitating the need for modification.

How does bridge-the-gap alimony differ from durational alimony?

As mentioned earlier, bridge-the-gap alimony is intended to provide one party with financial support for a limited period of time—which, in this case, would be no longer than two years. During this period of time, it is expected that the receiving spouse will take measures to become self-reliant.

While similar to the purpose of durational alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony does not necessarily factor in how long the couple has been married or how long it might take for the receiving spouse to gain employment. Oppositely, the length of durational alimony will often correspond with how long the couple has been married—as long as it was a short-term (less than 7 years) or moderate-term (7-17 years) marriage. As such, durational alimony payments cannot exceed the length of the marriage, which would allow for a maximum award of 17 years.

Discuss Your Case with a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyers

If you have made the decision to end your marriage in Florida, you should not hesitate to find out how the Jacksonville divorce attorney at Charles E. Willmott, P.A. can assist you in securing the divorce settlement that you deserve.

When you contact my firm at (904) 849-5183, you can rest easier knowing that you are retaining the help of a Board Certified divorce expert.

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