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What Types of Alimony Can I Seek in Florida?

Florida divorce law permits a judge to award alimony to either spouse based on a number of factors. The exact type of alimony awarded will vary depending on the nature of the marriage and the relative financial position of the spouses at the time of separation. Under Section 61.08 of the Florida Statutes there are five broad categories of alimony available.

1. Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

As the name suggests, bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to help the receiving spouse transition from married life back into living on their own. Consequently, this is a short-term form of alimony. By law the award may not exceed two years and cannot be modified after-the-fact, although payments can end sooner if the receiving spouse remarries or either spouse dies.

2. Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitation, in this context, refers to providing the receiving spouse with enough assistance to help them become financially self-sufficient. This type of alimony is typically awarded in cases where one spouse has not worked for many years and requires additional education or vocational training in order to establish (or reestablish) their career.

Florida law requires the spouse requesting rehabilitative alimony establish a “specific and defined” plan. In other words, you cannot ask for rehabilitative alimony based on a vague desire to “go back to school.” You need to explain to the judge exactly what kind of program you plan to enroll in and approximately how long it will take for you to complete your training. Unlike a bridge-the-gap award, the court may reopen and modify and rehabilitative alimony award if you do not follow your plan or there is a “substantial change in circumstances.”

3. Durational Alimony

If bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative alimony is not sufficient to meet a spouse's post-divorce economic deeds, the court may award durational alimony. This type of alimony does not require the requesting spouse to produce a specific rehabilitative plan, and the duration is not necessarily limited to two years as with bridge-the-gap alimony. The court will instead fix the period for alimony payments, but in no case can it be longer than the marriage itself. So if you were married for five years, the longest you can receive durational alimony payments for is also five years.

4. Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is just what it sounds like. It is an award that lasts indefinitely–or at least until either spouse dies or the receiving spouse remarries. Florida courts are more likely to award permanent alimony in marriages of “long duration,” which is defined as 17 years or greater. But it is possible to receive permanent alimony following shorter marriages, although the courts apply a heightened standard of proof.

5. Temporary Alimony

In some divorce cases the court may award temporary alimony, which is intended to assist a spouse with their expenses from the time the formal lawsuit is filed until a final decree is entered.

Need Help Pursuing a Florida Alimony Claim?

Whatever type of alimony you seek, it is not enough to simply show up in court and demand money. You will need to demonstrate to the court that you meet the legal criteria for alimony. This entails proof that your spouse has the ability to pay, which often requires extensive financial discovery as well as the use of specialists such as accountants and vocational experts. Failing to prove your case at trial due to a lack of appropriate evidence could have devastating consequences for the future security of you and your loved ones. An experienced Ocala & Gainesville family law attorney can help you in building and presenting your case. Call the offices of Dunham & Ingram at (352) 353-8117 to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our experienced legal team today.