Alimony is the court-ordered provision of support for a spouse after separation or divorce. Alimony is governed by statute and requires a fact intensive analysis in order to determine the appropriate amount and type of alimony that is appropriate for your case. While alimony is not awarded in every situation, whenever there is a significant disparity in income there is most likely some form of alimony that is appropriate. The key is presenting the Court with the evidence necessary for your particular situation. The Court will begin its analysis by determining if the requesting spouse has a need for alimony. The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage will be a significant factor. However, the Court will also assume the requesting spouse is working to his or her maximum capacity in determining need, even if they ultimately choose not to work. If you are the paying spouse you will want to make sure you give the evidence of your spouse’s ability to work. Both parties will want to present sufficient evidence to determine the true standard of living during the marriage. Even if your case does not go to trial you will need this information to determine an appropriate alimony award for settlement purposes. Thus, it is imperative you choose an attorney that has experience presenting these types of cases to the Court in order to achieve the best possible results.
Types of Alimony
- Temporary Alimony: May be awarded after separation until a final alimony determination is made by agreement of the parties or by the Court in the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. Temporary Alimony may be awarded retroactive to the separation up to two years prior to the date of the filing of the Dissolution of Marriage.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: Used when there is some form of retraining and/or education the requesting spouse can receive in order to become self supporting. It will require a specific plan to include the costs of the retraining/education and anticipated income at the end of the rehabilitative period.
- Permanent Alimony: Typically awarded in long term marriages, which is currently defined as marriages of 17 years or more. If permanent alimony is awarded it will terminate upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving spouse. It may also be subject to modification if there is a substantial change in circumstances that were not contemplated at the time of the final judgment.
- Lump Sum Alimony: A certain sum paid at one time or in installments. It is a vested award not subject to modification unlike most other types of alimony. It is not typically awarded by the Court as there are other types of alimony that are often more appropriate. It is more commonly used in settlements as a mechanism for reducing other types of alimony obligations that the Court would award.
- Bridge the Gap Alimony: Can be awarded for up to two years. It is intended to allow the receiving spouse to make the transition to being single. This is most commonly awarded in shorter term marriages.
- Durational Alimony: Typically awarded in marriages of less than 17 years, when permanent alimony is not appropriate. The maximum period of time it can be awarded is the length of the marriage. However, that is rare and it is often awarded for a lesser period of time.
Amount of Alimony?
Currently there are no guidelines for the amount of alimony. Rather, the Court looks at what the requesting spouse needs are based upon the standard of living established during the marriage after taking into consideration the requesting party’s ability to support him or herself. The Court will then look to the paying spouses ability to pay. Often there is not enough income for both spouses to maintain the same standard of living as that enjoyed during the marriage. Thus, the Court will have to balance the equities in order to come up with a fair award to both parties. This will typically require both parties to reduce their standard of living.
While the standard of living, the duration of the marriage, the need and the ability to pay are the primary factors, the Court must consider all of the following in awarding alimony:
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The age of each party
- The physical and emotional condition of each party
- The financial resources of each party
- The earning capacity, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties
- The contributions of each party to the marriage
- The responsibilities each person may have with respect to caring for minor children
- All sources of income available to either party.
Thus, it is imperative that you hire an attorney that has experience preparing these types of cases in order to present the necessary information to the other side in settlement negotiations and the Court should it be necessary to take the matter to trial. The Heskin Martinez Law Group has the experience necessary to do just that and we would be honored to help you whether you are the party seeking alimony or the party from whom alimony is requested.
Please call us if you have any questions about your Alimony. Call us at 407-403-5990 or contact us (below) to schedule your appointment.