A Judge decides whether or not to award alimony to one spouse based upon the length of the marriage, the parties’ standard of living during the marriage, the age and physical and emotional condition of both spouses, each spouse’s income, financial resources, and the income-producing capacity of those resources, the ability of each spouse to find appropriate employment, and how much each spouse contributed toward the homemaking, child rearing and career building of the other spouse. If the Judge decides that alimony is appropriate, there are several different types that can be awarded.
Permanent Alimony generally is only awarded in a dissolution of a marriage that lasted for more than seventeen years. Permanent alimony does not mean alimony that lasts forever. It automatically terminates upon the remarriage of the receiving spouse or upon the death of either spouse. Unless the parties sign an agreement that states the alimony cannot be modified, permanent alimony is typically modifiable by the Court upon either party proving a substantial, involuntary and permanent change in circumstances. Additionally, if the receiving spouse begins cohabitation with another person in a marriage-like relationship, permanent alimony is subject to modification or even termination.
Durational Alimony can be awarded in a moderate or short term marriage. Durational alimony cannot last any longer than the length of the marriage. Once durational alimony is awarded, the length of the award cannot be modified except under exceptional circumstances. However, the amount of durational alimony can be modified upon either spouse proving a substantial, involuntary, and permanent change in circumstances.
Bridge-the-Gap Alimony is intended to help the receiving spouse make the financial transition from married life to single life. Bridge-the-Gap alimony can be awarded for a maximum of two years and is typically awarded when other forms of alimony would be inappropriate. The Court is required to find legitimate and identifiable short term needs. The amount of Bridge-the-Gap alimony cannot be modified by the Judge.
Rehabilitative Alimony is awarded to assist a spouse in obtaining the ability to be self supporting. It is awarded as a monthly payment for a set time period. Unlike Bridge-the-Gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony can exceed two years but during that time the receiving spouse is required to redevelop previous skills or credentials or acquire education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. In order for the Judge to award rehabilitative alimony, the requesting spouse must present to the Court a detailed plan of rehabilitation that includes the specific steps that the receiving spouse will take in order to develop better employment skills. The plan must also demonstrate to the Judge the anticipated cost of the rehabilitation plan as well as the expected earning potential once the plan is completed. Often the plan is to finish a curriculum geared toward earning a college degree, to obtain a professional or trade license, or to take a refresher courses in a previous profession. Rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated by the Court if the receiving spouse has stopped working through the plan.
Lump Sum Alimony
Lump Sum Alimony is a lump sum payment that must be made by one spouse to another. Although it is usually made in one payment, the Judge does have the ability to order that it be made in multiple payments. Lump sum alimony cannot be modified by the Court once it is ordered.
Temporary Alimony can be awarded by the Judge during the divorce case. The purpose of temporary alimony is to meet the immediate needs of a spouse and to maintain as much of the status quo as possible. Temporary alimony can be modified by the Judge upon a showing of good cause and ends upon entry of a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
If you think alimony may be an issue in your divorce and you want more information, call Mark S. Steinberg, P.A. at (305) 671-0015 or fill out the Contact Form to schedule a consultation.