Divorce can be both time-consuming and expensive. While the proceedings are pending, you may have trouble maintaining the standard of living to which you had become accustomed during your marriage, particularly if you are the lower-earning spouse. Receiving alimony – also known in Florida as “maintenance” – can help you make ends meet throughout the divorce process and afterwards. The judge has the final say in both what you get and for how long, however.
The court first must make an initial determination of whether maintenance is appropriate, and then decide how long it will last. This is done by examining the factors present in the maintenance statutes, which include:
- Income and assets of each party
- Each spouse’s needs
- Present and future earning capacity of both parties (including whether one spouse forwent career or educational opportunities for the benefit of the other)
- Amount of time it would take the party seeking alimony payments to become self-supporting through further education, training or job experience
- Parental responsibilities of each party
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Length of the marriage
- Age and health of the parties
- Contributions made by the party seeking maintenance to the educational or career opportunities of the other
- Specific agreement of the parties
- Other factors as deemed appropriate
In some instances, a judge may award spousal support that lasts the duration of the divorce proceedings. This type of alimony is short-term in nature, and it is specifically designed to end when the divorce decree is signed.
This type of maintenance gets set for a specific amount of time that the court will determine using a number of factors including the length of the marriage. It is commonly used for rehabilitative purposes, such as when one spouse stayed at home to care for the children and household for the majority of the couple’s time together. It gives the lower-earning spouse the time and freedom to seek out the educational and career opportunities necessary to become self-supporting.
Reviewable maintenance is similar to fixed-term alimony, but there isn’t a set end date. Instead, the court will review the ongoing need for maintenance periodically and may extend the payments as it deems fit in the interests of justice. A judge may also, upon reflection, end the maintenance.
As the name implies, this maintenance continues with no set end date and is not subject to regular review. It is only for spouses whose marriages lasted longer than 17 years and where one spouse may have no ability to become self-sufficient. Even so, the court still has discretion regarding termination.
Each couple’s marriage – and divorce – are unique. It is only after careful consideration of a request for maintenance and application of the statutory factors to each spouse’s specific circumstances that an award will be granted unless the parties come to an arrangement on their own. A family law attorney can guide you through the process of seeking alimony (or opposing the making of payments if you feel it would be unfair) and can be an invaluable resource throughout the entirety of your divorce.