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A New Type of Alimony in the State of Florida - Durational Alimony

A new statute became effective July 1st, 2010 that changed the way alimony is calculated and awarded in the state of Florida. The statute created a new type of alimony- "Durational Alimony"- bringing the number of different types of alimony to six. The revised statute also codifies specific guidelines on the length of marriage and how that factor affects alimony. Individuals seeking spousal support may now be able to receive one, or any combination of the newly defined types of alimony.

When most people think of alimony, they think of a situation where they are required to write their ex-spouse a check every month until the ex either remarries or one of them dies. There are however, several different types and ways that alimony can be awarded. The six different types of alimony recognized by the State of Florida are:

  • Temporary
  • Bridge the Gap
  • Lump Sum
  • Rehabilitative
  • Durational
  • Permanent Periodic

The first is temporary alimony, which is awarded in order to keep the household bills paid during the duration of the divorce case. Secondly, "Bridge the Gap" alimony may be awarded to allow a party to make a transition from being married to being single but does not last for an extended period of time. This is similar to Lump Sum Alimony where a pre-agreed upon amount is paid at once or in installments but cannot be modified at any point. Rehabilitative Alimony can be used by the Court to provide the capacity for one party to become self-supporting through the development of skills and credentials or education and work experience. This type of alimony requires the party to have a plan on how they will gain self sufficiency.

Durational alimony was created with the intention that it be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. It offers alimony to a party in order to provide economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration. The only significant limitation of Durational Alimony is that it may not exceed the length of the marriage.

Finally, in addition to Durational Alimony there is Permanent Periodic alimony which may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities that the standard of the marriage created on a more permanent basis. As the name implies, permanent periodic alimony lasts at least until one of the spouses dies or the recipient spouse remarries.

According to the new statutes, courts may now award any one type or any combination of the types of alimony in a divorce case.

The courts also now have a few newly added guidelines to follow when determining how and how much alimony should be awarded. In addition to factors such as the history of the marriage, the age of the parties, and the employment history and skills of the economically weaker spouse, the statute now provides specific definitions for lengths of marriages. The legislature designates between:

  • a short-term (less than 7 years),
  • moderate-term (7-17 years), and
  • long-term (more than 17 years) marriage.

The Court's first obligation is to determine each party's actual need for and ability to pay support obligations. This now includes factors such as tax deductions, all sources of a party's income including investments, and the responsibility each party will have regarding any minor children they share.

The new changes apply only to any initial alimony award entered after July 1st, 2010 and do not serve as a basis to modify the type or length of alimony orders which have been entered before July 1st.

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