It can be a very challenging topic after divorce because of the emotional distress that the topic causes. It is a necessary obligation after divorce that allows the lower-earning spouse to make his or her way in the world. As a Jacksonville alimony attorney, I can help put together a spousal support agreement that effectively works with both parties.
If you have questions about alimony in Florida, contact my firm to start discussing your situation today.
What You Need To Know About Alimony
Alimony can depend upon the length of the marriage; the age, income, and employment history of each party; who your divorce judge is, and many other circumstances too numerous to mention.
You can read the statute here and see for yourself the complexity of the factors.
Many cases require the special experience of a board certified Jacksonville alimony lawyer to secure or defend against an alimony award. Then, it is not enough to determine whether or not an alimony award is warranted, your lawyer has to determine the correct type of alimony for your particular needs (or how to defend against paying that particular alimony). Military divorces may have special considerations.
There are subtle variations of each alimony type, the tax implications, and how to present your case to a particular divorce judge. There is more to it than just presenting testimony. The longer that you are married and the bigger the disparity of your incomes, the more alimony exposure there is in a divorce case. Length of the marriage also largely determines which type of alimony you receive. The structured settlement of your assets or property can affect the award as well.
Is Alimony Taxable in Florida?
The tax consequences of alimony depend on when the agreement was finalized. Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, alimony paid in divorces finalized on or after January 1, 2019 is:
· Non-taxable to the recipient
· Non-deductible by the payor
These changes are not retroactive, meaning they do not affect agreements finalized before January 1, 2019. For these cases, alimony remains:
· A tax deductible to the paying party
· Taxable income for the recipient
How is Alimony Awarded in a Florida Divorce?
In the state of Florida, alimony can be awarded in five different ways: temporary, 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, or long-term 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.
- 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. 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.
Who Is Entitled to Receive Alimony in Florida?
In the case of dissolution of marriage, one party may require financial assistance through the means of the other party. This exchange of monetary funds after divorce is called alimony. The purpose of alimony is to eliminate unfair economic limitations of either party after a divorce. It is a continual monthly exchange of finances from the higher earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse.
During a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court can grant alimony to either party. The court can also decide whether this payment will be made in one lump sum or during set monthly periods. They will also take into consideration factors such as adultery and domestic abuse, when determining alimony. The primary determination of how much alimony, if any, should be granted, is whether or not either party has a need for spousal support.
It is my desire that you are able to receive the alimony you deserve and that your rights are fully protected no matter whether you are on the lower income or higher income side of the situation.
The court takes into consideration many factors, such as the length of marriage, when making the decision to grant alimony and how much. My firm can discuss your probability of receiving this payment and how much to expect. I can also help prepare an agreement that the courts may allow.
How to Avoid Alimony in Florida
In Florida, the legal system determines alimony based on various factors, and it's not something you can entirely "avoid." However, there are steps individuals can take to potentially minimize or structure their financial obligations during a divorce:
- Prenuptial Agreement: Before marriage, couples can create a prenuptial agreement that outlines the terms of alimony in case of divorce. This legal document can specify the type, amount, duration, or waiver of alimony, providing a level of control and predictability.
- Postnuptial Agreement: Similar to a prenup, a postnuptial agreement can be established after marriage to agree upon terms for alimony and other financial matters in case of divorce.
- Mediation and Negotiation: During divorce proceedings, couples can opt for mediation or negotiation to come to an agreement on alimony terms. By actively participating in this process, both parties have more control over the outcome, potentially resulting in a more agreeable arrangement.
- Equal Financial Independence: Encourage both spouses to maintain equal financial independence during the marriage. This can involve both parties contributing to their own retirement savings, investment accounts, and individual financial stability.
- Focused Legal Guidance: Seek advice from a skilled Jacksonville alimony attorney with experience in Florida's divorce laws. They can provide strategic guidance on how to structure your assets and present your case to the court, potentially influencing the alimony determination.
- Show Financial Need and Ability to Pay: If you're the potential payor of alimony, demonstrating a genuine lack of financial ability to pay or the recipient's financial independence and stability might influence the court to modify or waive alimony.
It's essential to consult with an experienced Jacksonville alimony attorney to understand the legal implications and potential strategies for managing alimony during divorce in Florida, ensuring the best possible outcome based on your circumstances.
In need of alimony or are involved in a dispute regarding spousal support? Contact my firm so that as your Jacksonville alimony lawyer we can work through this situation.
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