© 2009 Arlene C. Richman, Esq.
by Arlene C. Richman, Esq.
Alimony is a payment by one party, either the husband or the wife, to the other, for spousal support. In Florida, there are no monetary formulas for determining the amount of alimony one spouse should receive, either on a temporary or permanent basis. When the parties go before a judge during a trial, the judge determines whether alimony should be awarded, as well as the type of alimony and the amount. The determination is made using standards outlined in the Florida Statutes. The judge makes the determination considering several factors about each party and the lifestyle during the marriage. Since the decision is discretionary with each judge, the amount and type will vary, depending on the particular views of the individual judge assigned to that case. 
Standards of Review for Awarding Alimony:
1. The standard of living established during the marriage.
2. The duration of the marriage.
3. The age and the physical and emotional health of each party.
4. The financial resources of each party, the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
5. When applicable, the time necessary for the other party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
6. The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, childcare, education, and career building of the other party.
7. All sources of income available to either party.
The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Types of Alimony:
Permanent, Periodic Alimony.
Lump Sum Alimony.
Bridge-the-Gap alimony is a device that has been created by the various districts courts of Florida to deal with the period following a divorce when a spouse does not seem entitled to permanent alimony, but where the court believes the spouse needs some economic assistance for a relatively short period of time.
Bridge the gap alimony has no statutory authority; however, the Florida district courts have each created different criteria for awarding or defining bridge-the-gap alimony.  Often the criteria and justification can not only vary within each district, but also appears to be subject to the facts of each case and the trial courts treatment of the standards for permanent, lump sum, and rehabilitative alimony. An explanation of each of the five Florida district's general views on the application of bridge-the-gap alimony is as follows:
(1) The First District Court considers bridge-the-gap alimony as a form of rehabilitative alimony and has also defined it as a method of "making the transition from a married to a single life." 
(2) The Second District Court holds: "For reasons both legal and practical, we continue to require that bridge-the-gap alimony be awarded as a form of permanent lump sum alimony that does not terminate upon the death of the payor or the remarriage of the payee." 
(3) The Third District Court has held bridge-the-gap alimony "is proper only where 'the evidence suggests that the wife can be rehabilitated to a financial stature that would permit her to become self-supporting.'" . However, the third district has also held, "bridge-the-gap alimony serves to assist a spouse already capable of self-support during the transition from being married to being single." 
(4) The Fourth District Court appears to agree with the third district's interpretation of bridge-the-gap alimony as some form of rehabilitative alimony.  In addition, the fourth district is willing to consider bridge-the-gap alimony as a transition award, similar to the first district and third district. "[b]ridge-the-gap alimony serves to assist a spouse already capable of self-support during the transition from being married to being single." 
(5) The Fifth District Court takes a different stance. In reviewing a case that granted bridge-the-gap alimony to a spouse, the fifth district held that: "Alimony is for one of three purposes: either for permanent support, rehabilitative to reach a specific goal or as a device to reach equitable distribution of marital property. This award was none of these; it is reversed. Alimony is for one of three purposes: either for permanent support, rehabilitative to reach a specific goal or as a device to reach equitable distribution of marital property." 
 Victoria M. Ho and Jennifer J. Cohen,
Update on Florida Alimony Case Law; Are Alimony Guidelines a Part of Our
Future, Part I, Florida Bar Journal, Vol. LXXVII, No. 9 (2003).
("If alimony is to be judicially determined in 'just proportions where
appropritae' then this judicial discretion can understandably lead to widely
disparate results.") citing to, Marti E. Thurman, Maintenance:
A Recognition of the Need for Guidelines, 33 U. Louisvill J. Fam. L.
971, 971 (1995). pdf
 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(2) (2009). RETURN TO TEXT
 Canakaris v. Canakaris, 382 So.2d 1197,1201 (Fla. 1980). RETURN TO TEXT
 Canakaris at 382 So.2d 1197,1202. RETURN TO TEXT
 Canakaris at 382 1197, 1201. RETURN TO TEXT
 Canakaris at 382 So.2d 1197, 1202. RETURN TO TEXT
 See generally Borchard v. Borchard, 730 So.2d 748 (Fla. 2nd DCA 748) (discussion of each district courtís approach to granting bridge-the-gap alimony). RETURN TO TEXT
 Shea v. Shea, 572 So.2d 558 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990) RETURN TO TEXT
 Athey v. Athey, 2003 Fl. 1781 (FLCA 2003)(Fla. 2nd DCA 2003) RETURN TO TEXT
 Rolle v Rolle, 979 So.2d 1087 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2008), citing to Bible v. Bible, 597 So.2d 359, 361 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992) (quoting Lanier v. Lanier, 594 So.2d 809, 811 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992)). RETURN TO TEXT
 Yitzhari v. Yitzhari, 906 So. 2d 1250, 1255 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005). RETURN TO TEXT
 See: Corchado v. Corchado, 648 So.2d 1261, (Fla. 4th DCA 1995. RETURN TO TEXT
 Wofrod v. Woford, No.4Do8-3358 (Fla.App. 11/4/2009)(Fla. 4th DCA 2009). RETURN TO TEXT
 Martin v. Martin, 582 So.2d 784 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991). RETURN TO TEXT
Arlene Richman is an attorney practicing collaborative law and family law in South Florida since 1987. She is a certified family law mediator, and founding member and current director of Collaborative Lawyers, Inc., a state-wide educational and professional development association and business directory of independent Florida licensed attorneys at law and law firms who practice in the areas of collaborative divorce and collaborative family law.
Information on this website should not be taken as legal advice. Laws change, situations differ, and there may be exceptions to general rules. Except as otherwise may be provided, this website and contents are © 2009 Collaborative Lawyers, Inc. Collaborative Lawyers, Inc., is a state-wide educational and professional development association and business directory of independent Florida licensed attorneys at law and law firms who practice in the areas of collaborative divorce and collaborative family law. It is not a law firm or attorney referral organization.
Collaborative Lawyers Southeast Florida attorneys serve South Florida, including Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County, and the cities of Miami, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach, Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, Coral Springs, Weston, Parkland, Tamarac, Plantation, Sunrise, Miami Lakes, Miami Shores.