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What does the judge consider when assigning alimony?

Spousal support is probably one of the things that divorcing couples fight over the hardest. That makes it particularly important to understand a few things about spousal support, or alimony, before you divorce.

1. Spousal support is not gender-specific. A woman can pay a man just as easily as a man can pay a woman.

2. A divorcing couple can make their own agreement regarding spousal support. As long as both couples agree and the arrangement seems fair, the judge is likely to permit it -- however, make certain that it becomes an official court order. Otherwise, it cannot be enforced.

3. Alimony is rarely for life. The days when alimony continued until the spouse receiving it either died or remarried are generally long gone -- with a few exceptions. Permanent alimony is sometimes awarded to a spouse that is aged or disabled and unlikely to ever be self-supporting. That prevents "spousal dumping" and leaving a spouse to become a burden on the state.

4. Florida has several common forms of alimony:

  • Lump-sum alimony, which is given in one payment and can be either cash or property
  • Bridging-the-Gap alimony, which helps a spouse of modest means transition into independence
  • Durational alimony, which is only paid for a finite period, such as in between the time of physical separation and the final divorce settlement
  • Rehabilitative alimony, which usually is designed to help a spouse re-enter the workforce or obtain marketable skills

None of these are intended to be permanent, although some may last longer than others.

5. The judge can consider several different factors when deciding if alimony is warranted and how much should be allotted. Each situation is considered unique, but you can generally expect that a long-term spouse who has always been a homemaker will receive more alimony than a spouse from a short-term marriage who has his or her own job or career -- even if he or she makes less than the other spouse.

For more specific information about how alimony is likely to be awarded in your case, legal guidance may be indispensable.

Source: FindLaw, "Florida Spousal Support or Alimony Laws," accessed Sep. 15, 2017

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