In the state of Florida, alimony can be awarded in five different ways: temporary, permanent, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and durational. Each has been designed to provide financial support under a unique set of circumstances for a designated amount of time—the general purpose of which is to eliminate unfair economic limitations for the lower earning spouse after a divorce. Depending on the specific nature of a case, the presiding judge can choose to grant monthly alimony payments to either party on a temporary, long-term or even permanent basis. The basis for awarding these spousal support payments will depend on the following factors:
- As you may know, the divorce process can last several months or even upwards of a year—depending on the complexity of the case. For this reason, a judge may order temporary alimony to a financially dependent spouse for the course of these proceedings. These payments would end as soon as the divorce has been finalized, but the court can choose to award further support if they find it necessary.
- When deciding on the matter of alimony, a judge will take several different factors into consideration—including the length of the marriage, the standard of living that has been established and the emotional and physical conditions of each spouse. If the couple was engaged in a marriage for at least 17 years and one spouse has a significantly lower earning potential than the other, permanent alimony may be awarded.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony was designed to provide economic support to one spouse for legitimate identifiable short-term needs while making the transition from being married to becoming single. For example, one spouse may not be able to afford basic living expenses while they wait for their house to sell. Under these circumstances, the court may order the higher earning party to provide temporary support.
- Rehabilitative alimony is typically appropriate in cases of short-term (7 years or less) or moderate-term (7 to 17 years) marriages. Unlike permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony was designed to provide financial support to a dependent spouse while they establish the capacity for self-support—which may include acquiring an education, undergoing specified training, etc. This means that the payments would be temporary.
- Durational alimony is typically awarded in cases that involve a long-term marriage (17 years or longer), as it is intended to provide economic support for a specified amount of time. This means that the payments would cease at a pre-determined date, which could be months of even years after the couple's divorce; however, the length of the durational alimony award cannot exceed the length of the couple's marriage.