What Are the Factors When Determining Alimony and Need

Florida alimony (also called spousal support) has specific requirements the Court must consider and address when determining both a party's need and the amount of an alimony award. Florida Statutes §61.08 provides specific factors the Florida Courts must consider when making these determinations; the factors are as follows:

(a)�The standard of living established during the marriage.

(b)�The duration of the marriage.

(c)�The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.

(d)�The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.

(e) �The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.

(f) �The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.

(g)�The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.

(h) �The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.

(i) �All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.

(j)�Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Each case is individually evaluated on the above factors and the weight of each factor is unique to each case. Factor (j) permits the most discretion and the broadest ability for a Judge and lawyers to obtain alimony for their client; on the converse, this is one of the more difficult factors to defend against when the opposing party has requested alimony because unlike the remainder of the elements, it is so broad and very discretionary.

While there have been numerous proposals in the Florida legislature to modify how alimony is awarded in Florida, until that occurs, the judges and attorneys will have broad discretion and arguments regarding alimony awards. Unlike with child support, there are no guidelines or formula that the Court will use when determining either whether there is a need or the amount of support; this decision is left to the discretion of the Judge and the arguments made by the parties (or their counsel). Since guidelines do not exist for the determination and valuation of alimony, some confusion and frustration exists among clients and litigates.

Over the past years, as traditional gender roles have changed, gender specific language regarding eligibility for alimony has also changed; the law permits either party the right to request spousal support from the other party. Furthermore, with marriage equality and same-sex couples being permitted to legally marry, the gender neutral language permits either party in a same-sex marriage to request alimony from their spouse.

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