When a couple marries, Florida law assumes that they agree to provide financial support to one another. However, when a legally married couple decides to separate, and has not yet divorced, one spouse may be entitled to alimony. Alimony is awarded to ensure that neither spouse faces an unfair economic disadvantage due to the separation or divorce. Under Florida Statute 61.09, the court may enter an order for alimony for the spouse not receiving support, as long as the other spouse is able to contribute. The spouses do not have to seek a divorce in order to receive alimony. Although there is no residency requirement for the spouse seeking alimony, in order to file for divorce in Florida, one spouse must be a Florida resident for a minimum of 6 months prior to filing for divorce. Florida does not recognize legal separation as other states do; therefore, legal separation is not a requisite to apply for alimony for those who are separated.
In order for alimony to be granted, the spouse seeking support must prove that their income potential is inadequate to fund their standard of living following the separation. Furthermore, the spouse must provide evidence that the paying spouse has the necessary funds to pay the requested support. For alimony to be ordered, several factors are considered which Florida Statute 61.08 defines. Some of the factors may include, but not limited to, are: (a) the standard of living established during the marriage; (b) the duration of the marriage; (c) the age and the physical and emotional condition of each party; (d) the financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each; (e) the earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment; (f) the contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
There are several types of alimony one can receive which includes permanent, durational, rehabilitative, and bridge-the-gap. According to Florida Statutes 61.08, permanent alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following separation or dissolution of marriage. Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration or following a marriage of long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis. Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials or the acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs. It must also be noted that the court may award lump sum alimony to ensure the spouse receives his/her alimony as ordered if the paying spouse has proven unreliable in support payments.
While several factors come into consideration to determine the rights of both spouses, a married couple looking to separate is afforded the same rights to alimony as a couple looking to legally divorce in Florida to safeguard that neither spouse endure undue financial hardship due to the separation.