Estimate Ability to Pay Spousal Support

The Need for or Ability to Pay Spousal Support

Florida Alimony and Spousal Support

When a marriage is dissolved, the court may order alimony payments, but does not have to do so. Alimony is money or other assets that one spouse may be ordered by the court to pay to the other spouse. The purpose of the alimony may be either to meet a financial need for one of the spouses or to help achieve a fair division of the assets of the two spouses.

There are several types of alimony in Florida: bridge the gap, rehabilitative, durational, permanent or lump sum.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is usually used to help rehabilitate or support the receiving spouse for a fixed period of time, ordinarily until that spouse can renew old skills or obtain new skills with which to support him or herself. In deciding whether to award rehabilitative alimony, the court will consider whether or not there is a real probability of rehabilitating the person requesting alimony. At the end of the fixed period of time, it will automatically stop without further court action unless you ask the court to extend or change it.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is a payment which continues indefinitely until the remarriage of the spouse receiving it or until the death of either of the parties. It is used to provide the needs and the necessities of life for a former spouse as they have been established during the marriage of the parties. The two primary elements to be considered when determining permanent alimony are the needs of the receiving spouse for the funds and the ability of the paying spouse to provide the necessary funds.

The needs of one spouse for the funds are determined by the court’s consideration of each of the parties’ earning ability, age, health, education, as well as the length of the marriage, the marital standard of living, and the value of the parties’ estates.

The ability of the other spouse to provide the necessary funds is determined by the court’s consideration of both parties net income, net worth, past earnings and the value of each of the parties’ assets. Any responsibilities to other dependents–for example, the need for support of children from a former marriage or aged parents–may be considered when determining a spouse’s financial ability to pay alimony.

In considering the health of the parties, the court may wish to consider not only the physical and emotional health of each of the parties but also any limitation of activities imposed on either of them. The court will almost certainly want to consider whether the other party had anything to do with causing this problem or any aggravation of it.

Lump Sum Alimony

Lump sum alimony is a payment of a set amount. Lump sum alimony creates a right that survives the death of both parties and cannot later be changed or cancelled. Lump sum alimony may consist of money, property or other things of value. It may be payable all at one time, such as the transfer of a car, house, or household contents, or in payments over period of time, such as $10,000 payable at the rate of $100 per week.

The basic requirements for an award of lump sum alimony are that there is a justification for the award and there is a financial ability of the paying spouse to make such payment without substantially endangering his or her economic status.

Under Florida Law, there are several things the court will consider when making the decision to award alimony. First, the court takes into consideration the standard of living established during the marriage. The court also considers the duration of the marriage, the age and physical and emotional health of each of the parties, the financial resources of each of the parties as well as the time necessary to obtain education or training to enable a party to find appropriate employment. In addition, the court considers the contribution to the marriage by each party whether by way of work and income or by way of raising the children and keeping house. Finally, the court will consider what sources of income are available to each of the parties.

Generally, all these things determine whether alimony will be paid as well as the amount and type of alimony that the court will order. For example, the more a spouse earns, the more support he or she may be required to pay. A spouse with a small income would not be expected to pay as much as one whose earnings are very high. The court attempts to be as fair as it can to both parties.

What is a QDRO and why do I need one?

A QDRO (or Qualified Domestic Relations Order) is the legal document that divides up a qualified pension or retirement account (including 401k’s) pursuant to a divorce. The Judgment of Divorce is not sufficient to divide up qualified plans, a QDRO is needed. There are many nuances that go into QDRO’s and make it an advocating (versus neutral) document. In order to protect your assets, be sure to obtain qualified advice in this area from a specialist, we can help.