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During a divorce, one spouse may request financial support from the other spouse, and this is called alimony or spousal support. If spouses do not have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place, the family court will have to decide whether or not alimony should be awarded.

What Factors are Considered when Awarding Alimony

Generally, the judge who presides over the divorce will take several factors into consideration when determining whether or not alimony is appropriate, what type of alimony to order, and how much alimony should be awarded.

Alimony laws vary from state to state. In Florida, there is no preset formula for determining divorce alimony. Instead, the judge considers these factors:

The standard of living during the marriage: A person with a high standard of living may have to pay more alimony than someone with a lower standard of living who makes the same amount of money.
The length of the marriage: In Florida, a marriage of less than seven years is considered a short term marriage. A judge is unlikely to award alimony in a short term marriage, but quite likely to award it in a long term marriage, which is a marriage of over fourteen years.
The ability of one spouse to pay alimony and the other spouse’s need for alimony: The judge will consider the incomes of each spouse and their abilities to support themselves.

Different Types of Alimony

If the judge determines that alimony should be awarded to one spouse, the judge must then determine what type of alimony to award. Usually, in cases where the marriage is short term, durational alimony is awarded. This type of alimony is paid regularly for a set period of time that cannot exceed the length of the marriage. In other cases, the judge may award permanent alimony which is paid on a regular basis for the remainder of the receiver’s life or until the receiver remarries. In some cases, permanent alimony may be terminated by a judge when the receiver moves in with a non-family member upon whom they are financially co-dependent, such as a boyfriend or fiancé. Contrary to popular belief, either a man or a woman may receive alimony from their former spouse.

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