Types of Alimony
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded for a specific and limited period of time to enable the needy spouse to obtain sufficient education or training to become financially independent and may even be designated for a specific purpose. Generally, this form of alimony continues until the specified period of time regardless of the remarriage of the receiving spouse. Under the new statute, rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated in accordance with statute 61.14 if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, if the party receiving rehabilitative alimony is not compliant with the rehabilitative plan, or if the plan has been completed.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is awarded for period no longer than two years to enable one spouse to transition from the status of a married person to that of a divorced, or single, person. It allows that spouse to reenter the workforce to eventually become self-sufficient. The requirement to obtain specific education and/or training is not necessary. Generally, this form of alimony continues until the specified period of time has expired, but it will terminate under the new statute upon the death of either party or upon remarriage of the receiving party. This form of alimony is not modifiable in amount or length of time.
Durational alimony is a new form of alimony that is awarded when permanent alimony is not appropriate. Its purpose is to provide economic assistance to a spouse for a set period of time following a marriage if short or moderate duration. Durational alimony ends upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving party, and the amount may be modified or terminated based on a substantial change in circumstances. The length of time for durational alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage, except under exceptional circumstances.
Permanent alimony continues until the remarriage of the receiving spouse or until the death of either party. The adultery of either spouse may be considered in determining entitlement to and amount of alimony. Accordingly, it is very important that you be candid with your attorney about this matter. In general, permanent alimony is not considered in a marriage of less than 17 years, especially with the enactment of the revisions to the statute. Alimony is a complex subject to be discussed with your attorney.
The Court will also consider all relevant economic factors in determining whether alimony should be granted and, if so, the amount and form thereof. Included among these are:
1. The needs of the requesting spouse (from Financial Affidavit).
2. The ability of the other spouse to respond to these needs, e.g.:
A. Income for last few years.
B. Spouses job or profession.
C. Imputed income if spouse is voluntarily unemployed or under employed.
3. The shared standard of living established during the marriage, etc.:
A. Value of present home and furnishings;
B. Value of type of autos available to the parties;
C. Type of clubs or organizations the parties belong to;
D. Type of recreation trips, vacations, and hobbies engaged in.
4. The duration of the marriage.
5. The age of each of the parties.
6. The physical and emotional health of each of the parties.
7. Any limit of activities because of mental or physical health problems.
8. The financial resources (capital assets) of each party and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
9. The station in life of each party.
10. The conduct of each of the parties.
11. The financial responsibilities that each party may have as the result of prior marriages.
12. The financial responsibilities as to other people who are dependent upon them for sustenance or education.
13. The number of children that the parties have (including):
A. The age of each child
B. The status of each child’s health
C. Whether the needs of the minor children make it inappropriate for the custodial parent to work outside the home, and if so,
D. How long those needs will continue.
14. The earning capacity and earning history of each of the parties including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable either party to find appropriate employment.
15. The education and vocational training of each of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time the action for Dissolution of Marriage is commenced.
16. The potential for rehabilitation that the person who is requesting alimony actually has, i.e., the feasibility that the party seeking alimony or maintenance can become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage, and, if so, the length of time necessary to achieve this goal. (Consider health, age, job skills, education, work experience).
17. The extent to which a supported spouse’s personal present and future earning capacity has been impaired by reason of unemployment during the marriage by virtue of homemaking services. (Lost potential).
18. The plan under which the parties operated during their marriage as to whether or when the party who is requesting alimony would be working or whether she would have certain other obligations such as staying home and raising the children.
19. The contribution of each party to the marriage, including but not limited to:
A. Services rendered in homemaking.
B. Child care and parenting.
D. Career-building of the other party.
20. The principle that alimony should not result in either spouse suffering a shocking change in financial condition.
In addition, the court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Lump Sum Alimony:
Sometimes known as “alimony in gross”, lump sum alimony is a payment of a definite amount and in the nature of a final property settlement. An award of lump sum alimony creates a vested right that survives the death of both parties and is neither modifiable nor terminable upon the divorced spouse’s remarriage. Lump sum alimony may consist of money, real property, or personal property. The basic pre-requisition for an award of lump sum alimony are as follows:
1. There is justification for a lump sum payment.
A. Necessary to accomplish an equitable distribution
B. Necessary for support of a needy spouse
C. Special justification
2. There is financial ability of the other spouse to make the payment without substantially endangering his or her economic status.
Contributions of one spouse to the marital partnership as a parent and homemaker should be given recognition equal to the money-earning activities of the other spouse in determining whether an award of lump sum alimony is appropriate. In essence, a person’s domestic efforts are the equivalent for lump sum alimony purposes, of the financial consideration arising where the spouse may have brought into the marriage or assisted the other spouse in accumulating property.
Another basis for awarding lump sum alimony would be to put a definite end to the relationship and thereby avoid the vexations and possibly endless litigation.
Another basis for awarding lump sum alimony is where the parties are both not young; lump sum alimony is sometimes necessary or desirable to provide the receiving spouse with vested security against the other spouse’s possible early demise or disability; however, life insurance or some other security may also be an option.
Another basis for awarding lump sum alimony would be that the paying spouse would be unable to make periodic payments or that the receiving spouse have a particularized need for a cash award, for example, to make required expenditures (purchase a house) or get out of debt.
In addition, it is no longer necessary for a spouse to prove, upon dissolution of the marriage, that his or her efforts directly and specifically produced a tangible or measurable profit or gain. Marriage may indeed be a partnership in the economic area, and each partner is entitled to a fair share of the fruits of their combined industry, whether performed in the office, the factory, the fields, or the home.
If, as often happens, the harvest resulting from mutual efforts winds up in the hands of one partner (such as the creation of a business), the equitable share of the other can be allocated by an award of lump sum alimony.