Spousal Support Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
In April 2021, the push to end permanent alimony in Florida continued—then came to an unexpected halt. Senate Bill 1922, which would have ended permanent alimony was abruptly withdrawn. The theory behind ending Florida’s permanent alimony is that the receiving spouse has little incentive to become self-supporting—or to ever remarry—so long as the laws that allow permanent alimony stand. As of 2018, there were only seven states that still have permanent alimony, although there are certainly some cases where an award of permanent alimony is warranted.
Like child custody, spousal support is often a contentious issue among a divorcing couple. Spousal support is money one spouse pays to the other during the divorce (in some cases) and after the divorce is complete. Generally speaking, the higher wage earner will pay support to the lower wage earner as a means of helping him or her maintain the same lifestyle as during the marriage.
This support usually continues for a specific period of time following the divorce.
If you are contemplating a divorce or have already filed and are concerned about the financial outcome of the divorce, the spousal support lawyers at Lauriston Law Firm can help. We strive to be totally transparent in every interaction we have with our clients. Along with honesty, trust, empathy, and transparency, we are a highly solution-focused legal team as we help you reach your goals.
What is the Legal Definition of Spousal Support in Florida?
In the 2021 Florida Statutes, Chapter 61 (61.08), the laws regarding Florida spousal support—also known as alimony—are found. There are different types of Florida alimony, as well as guidelines for the judge who is making the determination of whether or not alimony should be awarded. Whether you are the spouse seeking spousal support or the spouse who could potentially have to pay the support, it can be extremely beneficial to speak to the knowledgeable spousal support lawyers at Lauriston Law Firm.
What Types of Spousal Support Exist in Broward County?
There are several different types of spousal support that can be awarded, depending on the specific circumstances surrounding your divorce, including:
- Rehabilitative Alimony is awarded for a specific, limited period of time following the divorce. The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to help the receiving spouse in obtaining the skills and education necessary to assist in the redevelopment of financial independence. For rehabilitative alimony to be awarded, there must be a specific plan included that explains how the money will be used to secure education, skills, or training. Rehabilitative alimony is generally paid on a monthly basis and can be modified or terminated when there is significant change in circumstances, when the rehabilitative plan is complete, or when there is non-compliance on the part of the receiving spouse.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony is meant to allow the receiving spouse to transition from married life to single life. This type of alimony can be used to secure a new place to live, purchase a car, or any other activity that will help the spouse get back on their feet following the divorce. Bridge-the-Gap alimony is generally paid over a short period of time, often as a lump-sum payment. The length of the award may not exceed two years and will terminate upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony.
- Permanent Alimony is no longer as common as it once was and is generally reserved for marriages of very long duration—although it can be awarded for a marriage of moderate or short duration if the judge deems it appropriate or if there are written findings of exceptional circumstances. Permanent alimony is meant to provide for the needs of a spouse that lacks the financial ability to provide his or her own needs and necessities. Permanent alimony is only awarded when the court finds there is no other form of alimony that would be reasonable or fair. Permanent alimony is generally paid monthly and terminates upon the death of either party or when the spouse receiving alimony remarries or is in a supportive relationship. When there is a substantial change in circumstances, either party can ask that the original award be modified.
- Durational Alimony is usually awarded for a specific length of time when permanent alimony is not considered appropriate. The goal of durational alimony is to provide the receiving spouse with economic assistance following a marriage of short or moderate duration—or of long duration if permanent alimony is not required. The length of the durational alimony award may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage. The amount, however, can be modified or terminated based on a substantial change in circumstances. Durational alimony ends upon the death of either party or when the receiving spouse remarries.
- Lump-Sum Alimony is money or property that is paid to the receiving spouse all at one time to equalize the financial situations of the spouses following the divorce.
Alimony payments may be made through depositories that use the State Disbursement Unit to relay the money to the receiving spouse. This prevents direct contact between the spouses when it’s necessary.
Is There a Formula for Determining Spousal Support?
When a judge must determine whether spousal support is appropriate—and if so, how much to award—he or she will consider the following factors:
- The amount of money each party is expected to earn each month
- How long the marriage has lasted
- The level of expenses each party can be expected to incur
- Whether alimony will make it possible for the receiving party to maintain a lifestyle that is similar to what the couple enjoyed during the marriage
- The age of each spouse
- The physical and mental health of each spouse
- Each spouse’s ability to earn
- The overall financial situation of each spouse
- All economic and non-economic contributions made by each spouse during the marriage
- Economic opportunities lost by one party as a result of the marriage
- Any other factors the judge feels are pertinent in the determination of whether alimony should be awarded and how much alimony should be awarded
Whether alimony is awarded in your case can have far-reaching financial implications. Let the experienced spousal support lawyers at Lauriston Law Firm help you secure much-needed spousal support, or, if you are on the other side, let us help you secure a just and fair outcome.
What About Post-Judgment Modifications?
While spousal support awards generally stand as they are decided, when the circumstances of one party change significantly, a post-judgment modification can be requested. This post-judgment modification would generally be for spousal support or for child support. The law does take into consideration that unforeseen circumstances can arise in an individual’s life, however, these circumstances must be considered a significant or material change. Possible examples of significant, material changes might include:
- The spouse paying spousal support loses his or her job
- The spouse receiving spousal support loses his or her job
- The spouse receiving spousal support has a major increase in his or her incoming finances
- Either spouse obtains a much better paying job
- The spouse receiving spousal support begins cohabitating with another person
- Either spouse’s physical or mental condition has deteriorated significantly, rendering them unable to maintain regular employment
- One party is convicted of a criminal offense and will spend time in jail or prison
Dealing with an unworkable support arrangement can be extremely stressful. The spousal support lawyers at Lauriston Law Firm understand the need for obtaining a judgment from the court as quickly as possible. We will stand firmly by your side as your advocate from the start of your divorce to the end.
How the Spousal Support Lawyers of Lauriston Law Firm Can Help
The experienced Broward County Lauriston Law Firm lawyers are ready to be fiercely loyal advocates on your behalf. We want to empower you during this difficult time, helping you to move forward in the best way possible. We are incredibly knowledgeable, compassionate, highly skilled attorneys who believe in your future. Contact Lauriston Law Firm today.