JEROME C. WILLIAMS, JR., ESQ.
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St. Petersburg, FL Alimony/Spousal Support Attorney

What is Alimony?

Alimony, also known as "spousal support," is an allotment of sums of money payable at regular intervals or in lump sum, as distinguished from a portion of a spouse's estate, and it is an obligation imposed by law separate an distinct from the parties' property rights.  There are a number of factors that the court must take into account to determine whether awarding alimony would be appropriate, however, a starting point for every alimony analysis is the determination of "need" and "ability to pay." Simply put, there must be a need on the recipients end, and the payor must have the ability to pay.  If either of these two scenarios are not present, an alimony award will not be granted.  

In order to prove "need," the recipient spouse must be able to demonstrate the inability to gain the income necessary to meet the same standard of living attained throughout the course of the marriage.  The recipient spouse has the burden of establishing need.  When the spouse receives sufficient income producing assets through equitable distribution, whereby all needs are met, then alimony is inappropriate. When establishing need, the courts are allowed to consider a myriad of things, including but not limited to: the parties' earning ability, age, health, education, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living during the marriage.  

An "ability to pay," is determined by income available to the spouse.  Alimony awards cannot leave the payor of alimony with significantly less net income than the net income of the recipient.  Also, please note that non-marital assets and income-producing assets can be considered when establishing the ability to pay attorney's fees in dissolution of marriage actions.    

Last but not least, the length of your marriage can and may determine the type(s) of alimony you will be awarded.  They are broken down as follows: Short-term (under 7 years)Moderate-term (7-17) and Long-term marriage (anything over 17 years).

Types of Alimony

Currently, under Florida law, there are six types of alimony: Temporary AlimonyBridge-the-Gap alimonyRehabilitative alimonyDurational alimonyLump Sum Alimony and Permanent alimony.  

Temporary Alimony

The notion behind awarding temporary alimony is to keep the household bills paid during the duration of the divorce case.  This is awarded during the divorce proceedings and is automatically terminated upon the entry of the formal divorce decree and may be replaced by one of the other types of alimony.  

Bridge-the-gap Alimony

This type of alimony is usually awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make the transition from a dependent spouse, to a non-dependent spouse or single.  Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to help a party with identifiable short-term needs.  

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to help a party in establishing their capacity for self-support, through either: the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials; or the education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials.  

Durational Alimony

The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration, or following a marriage for a long duration if there is no ongoing need for support on a permanent basis.  

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties, for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a divorce.  
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