DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE – In Florida, one of the parties has to be a resident of the State for at least six months before you can file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. At that point, the Court can deal with all of the issues – “primary physical resident” and timesharing with the child(ren), child support, alimony, equitable distribution of assets and liabilities. Florida has imposed some severe limitations on alimony in recent years. When people hear the word “alimony,” they generally think of the kind where you get something from the other party for the rest of your life – but that’s only one kind – permanent periodic alimony.
For that kind of alimony, the court looks at a number of factors – the first being the need of one party and the ability of the other party to pay. The court will then look at the length of the marriage. In order for the court to award permanent periodic alimony, the marriage should be at least 17 years long. There are exceptions, of course, but that’s a big factor. The court will also look at the parties’ standard of living, the age and physical and emotional condition of each party, contributions to the marriage and different kinds of marital misconduct. Of course, you don’t automatically get alimony because your spouse misbehaved – it’s on a case-by-case basis.
Durational alimony is intended for the short term, and it not supposed to last longer than the marriage did. The court looks at the same factors as for permanent periodic alimony.
Another kind of alimony is called “bridge-the-gap.” This is not supposed to last longer than two years, and the purpose is like durational alimony – to make the transition from married to single.
Finally, we have rehabilitative alimony. The court considers the same factors as for permanent periodic alimony, but the purpose is to enable a spouse to become self-supporting. For instance, a husband or wife who has been out of the workforce may need some schooling to get up to speed in his or her previous profession, or to learn new skills for a new profession.
All of these forms of alimony can be awarded separately, or sometimes in conjunction with each other. For instance, a spouse may receive rehabilitative alimony to become employed, but may not be able to attain the same standard of living as during the marriage, so permanent periodic alimony may be awarded as well.