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Alimony in Florida
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. [1]

Standards of Review for Awarding Alimony:
The Florida Statutes list several different elements to determine when an award of alimony is justified. [2] They are:

    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:
There are several different types of alimony. They include, for example:

Permanent, Periodic Alimony.
Permanent periodic alimony is used to provide the needs and necessities of life to a former spouse as they have been established by the marriage of the parties. [3] Permanent Periodic Alimony continues until the other party dies, gets re-married, or the alimony is modified by a court order. [4]

Lump Sum Alimony.
This is an award that is made from one spouse to another in one sum. [5]

Rehabilitative Alimony.
The principle purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to establish the capacity for self-support of the receiving spouse, either through the redevelopment of previous skills or provision of the training necessary to develop potential supportive skills. [6]

Temporary Alimony.
This is an award of support while the parties are still married and prior to the entry of a divorce decree. The standard is the historical need of the party, the other party's ability to pay, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony.

Macci and Kates Florida family Law Appeals -- all Florida courts

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. [7] 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." [8]

    (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." [9]

    (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.'" [10]. 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." [11]

    (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. [12] 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." [13]

    (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." [14]


[1] Victoria M. Ho and Jennifer J. Cohen, An 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 file
        Also see Victoria M. Ho and Jennifer J. Cohen, An Update on Florida Alimony Case Law; Are Alimony Guidelines a Part of Our Future, Part II, Florida Bar Journal, Vol. LXXVII, No. 10(2003), and Victoria M. Ho and Jennifer L. Johnson, Overview of Florida Alimony, Florida Bar Journal Vol. LXXVIII, No. 9 (2004).
RETURN TO TEXT

[2] Fla. Stat. § 61.08(2) (2009). RETURN TO TEXT

[3] Canakaris v. Canakaris, 382 So.2d 1197,1201 (Fla. 1980). RETURN TO TEXT

[4] Canakaris at 382 So.2d 1197,1202. RETURN TO TEXT

[5] Canakaris at 382 1197, 1201. RETURN TO TEXT

[6] Canakaris at 382 So.2d 1197, 1202. RETURN TO TEXT

[7] 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

[8] Shea v. Shea, 572 So.2d 558 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990) RETURN TO TEXT

[9] Athey v. Athey, 2003 Fl. 1781 (FLCA 2003)(Fla. 2nd DCA 2003) RETURN TO TEXT

[10] 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

[11] Yitzhari v. Yitzhari, 906 So. 2d 1250, 1255 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005). RETURN TO TEXT

[12] See: Corchado v. Corchado, 648 So.2d 1261, (Fla. 4th DCA 1995. RETURN TO TEXT

[13] Wofrod v. Woford, No.4Do8-3358 (Fla.App. 11/4/2009)(Fla. 4th DCA 2009). RETURN TO TEXT

[14] Martin v. Martin, 582 So.2d 784 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991). RETURN TO TEXT

Collaborative Lawyers, Inc. is an association of independent Florida Collaborative Lawyers, Collaborative Family Lawyers, and Collaborative Divorce Lawyers
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.

Collaborative Lawyers, Inc. is an association of independent Florida Collaborative Lawyers, Collaborative Family Lawyers, and Collaborative Divorce Lawyers

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.

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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.  Attorneys serve North, Central, Southwest, and South Florida from the Panhandle and Tallahassee to the Keys, including Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, and the cities of Miami, Pembroke Pines, Hallandale, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Palm Beach, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach, Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, Coral Springs, Weston, Parkland, Tamarac, Plantation, Sunrise, Miami Lakes, Miami Shores, Jupiter, and St. Lucie. Not a law firm or attorney referral organization. Website maintenance donated by http://www.thelizlibrary.org/ and argate.net