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How Many Types Of Alimony Are There?

ByThe Spence Law Firm Jan. 24, 2020

In this post we examine the different types of alimony that are available in a typical Orlando divorce case. Alimony is one of the most heavily litigated issues in dissolution cases, and it can sometimes be complicated to apply and understand. We will delve more deeply into the factors the court looks at when considering whether or not to award alimony in a later blog post and you can read more about how many types of alimony exist in Florida by continuing to read. “Alimony” or spousal support, generally means payments by one spouse to the other for the support and maintenance of the other spouse. Alimony is not always awarded by the court in an Orlando divorce case, and the type and scope of alimony awarded is dependent on the particular facts and circumstances of each case, so you’ll need to discuss the types of alimony available with your divorce attorney to see which fits your particular situation.

The State of Florida currently recognizes four different types of alimony awards:

  1. Bridge the Gap Alimony,

  2. Durational Alimony

  3. Rehabilitative Alimony,

  4. Permanent Alimony.

(Note: Current legislation before the Florida Legislature would completely re-write alimony in Florida and eliminate permanent alimony.) Additionally, a court can award alimony on a lump sum basis as opposed to periodic payments and can also award alimony on a temporary basis, known as temporary alimony. Temporary alimony is paid while the case is ongoing and before judgment is entered so that the less financially able spouse can pay the bills and make their way through to trial. Our Orlando alimony attorney now discusses the four types of alimony available post-judgment.

Bridge-The-Gap Alimony

Like it sounds, bridge the gap alimony in Florida is a short term stop-gap type of alimony that cannot exceed twenty-four months in duration. It is typically awarded to a spouse who is in need of short-term temporary support to help them land on their feet after a divorce. As the statute says, bridge the gap alimony was designed to assist one spouse with “legitimate identifiable short-term needs” while they make the transition from being married to becoming single. Short term needs can consist of living expenses while the spouse looks for a job or is waiting for their home to sell. This type of alimony can only be awarded for 24 months from the date of the judgment. Your Orlando alimony attorney can tell you that unlike most other forms of alimony in Florida bridge the gap alimony “shall not be modifiable in amount or duration.” So bridge the gap alimony is “permanent” in the sense that it cannot be modified after judgment, although it does terminate upon death of either spouse or if the receiving spouse re-marries.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Is typically awarded to help one spouse establish or re-establish the job skills and education needed to to support themselves and their family. Rehabilitative alimony can be awarded to pay for educational expenses, job training or other similar programs that a former spouse may need to develop the background and training needed to support themselves. It’s important to note that Florida alimony law requires that the party receiving rehabilitative alimony must present and prove a “specific and defined rehabilitative plan” drafted by your Orlando alimony attorney that has to be included as part of the judgment. Rehabilitative alimony may be modified based on a substantial change in circumstance, or if the receiving party does not follow the plan or once the plan is completed.

Durational Alimony

is a series of payments, which can be either regular monthly payments, a lump sum payment, or both. It is used in situations where permanent alimony is not appropriate, so it’s typically used in short term or moderate term marriages. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide economic help for a specific period of time following the end of the marriage. The amount of durational alimony may be modified if your Orlando alimony attorney files a motion based on a substantial change in circumstances, but the length of durational alimony may be modified only on a showing of “exceptional circumstances. Durational alimony terminates on the death of either party or if the receiving party re-marries.

Permanent Alimony

Is awarded to provide a spouse who lacks the financial ability to meet their needs with support to pay for the “needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage.” Permanent alimony is typically awarded in cases involving a long term marriage (17 years or more), although it can be used in moderate term marriages on a showing of clear and convincing evidence or in a short term marriage if there are exceptional circumstances. Permanent alimony may only be awarded if the court finds that no other form of alimony is appropriate. It terminates on the death of either party or upon the re-marriage of the receiving party and may be modified on a showing of a substantial change in circumstance or if the receiving party is in a “supportive relationship.” Whether a supportive relationship exists is a detailed factual determination, but in general it is a relationship that provides “economic support equivalent to a marriage.” The court examines a list of factors including whether the parties live together and for how long, whether they have joint bank accounts or own property jointly, whether one party supports the other and whether they support each other’s children. If the receiving party is determined to be in a supportive relationship, it is equivalent to a re-marriage, financially, so it is appropriate for an Orlando alimony attorney to file a motion to terminate permanent alimony.

Income Tax Treatment of Alimony

Starting with judgments entered on or after January 1, 2019, alimony payments are no longer a tax deduction for the paying party and is not treated as taxable income for receiving party. Alimony is treated as expense reimbursement, similar to child support. If your final judgment was entered before January 1, 2019, the new tax bill does not apply to your case, meaning the paying party may deduct their alimony payments from income and the receiving party has to declare the alimony received as income.

Consult With an Experienced Orlando Alimony Attorney.

If you have questions about alimony in your Orlando divorce then call The Spence Law Firm today for a free consultation.