Facts About Alimony in Florida Divorces

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Alimony awards in Florida are currently based upon one spouse’s needs and the other spouse’s ability to pay.  Along with that there are 30 statutory factors that a judge may consider in awarding alimony.  Some of the more heavily weighted factors are the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the lifestyle of the marriage, education of the parties. 

There are several types of alimony: durational, bridge the gap, permanent, and lump sum.  Durational alimony is awarded usually to spouses in marriages in the 5 to 16 year category. The alimony can’t last for longer than the marriage did.  Bridge the gap alimony is usually awarded for shorter term marriages with the purpose of getting the needy spouse back on his/her feet.  Permanent alimony is usually for marriages of 17 years or longer.   Lump sum alimony is where the parties agree that a lump sum can be given instead of payouts. 

There is also non modifiable alimony and modifiable alimony.  Modifiable alimony is based on a substantial, material involuntary change in circumstances since the alimony was awarded.

Once it is determined that a spouse is in fact entitled to an alimony award, the question then becomes how much and for how long.  This is often litigated in the courtroom or agreed upon by the parties in mediation. For more information about alimony or other important divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers are ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com for more information.

All I Want For Christmas Is A Divorce. How Do I Get One?

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

You start by taking stock…of your situation, your family finances, your assets and your debts.  Educate yourself as to your spouse’ income, his/her spending, and whereabouts.  Then pick up the phone to a divorce lawyer.

Once you have a good idea of the value of your house, your stock accounts, your incomes, get your hands on your tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, mortgage papers, loan applications, insurance documents, estate planning instruments, and anything else that evidences money. 

Remember in Florida, there is no fault divorce; there is equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, and there is premarital property that may or may not have been comingled.  There is also permanent alimony, durational alimony, bridge the gap alimony, and no alimony.  There is child time sharing, child support, shared parental responsibility, or sole parental responsibility. 

There is money for attorneys fees and costs, or not.  There is mediation and settlement, or trial.  There are depositions, mandatory financial disclosure, and penalties for not producing financial disclosure.  Divorce is a process, but in certain circumstances, it is the best gift you could ever give yourself.  You don’t need his/her permission to get a divorce in this state.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com for more information.  

What Is The Connection Between Length Of A Marriage And Florida Alimony Laws?

by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Clients often ask me how much alimony they are going to have to pay, or in other cases, how much alimony they are going to get.  Unlike child support awards, which is a statutory calculation based upon the combined net monthly incomes of the husband and the wife, alimony awards are determined by the circumstances of the marriage and are given under the law but at the discretion of the sitting judge.

One of the key factors in any alimony award if you are the recipient, or obligation if you are the payor, is the length of the marriage.  The State of  Florida breaks it down into three categories: short term marriages, long term marriages and grey area or middle ground marriages.  In short term marriages, usually 0 to 8 years, alimony awards are highly scrutinized by the court.  In grey area marriages, 8 years long to 17 years long, alimony is most often awarded if there is a disparity of incomes, and a spouse can prove his/her need and the ability of the other spouse to pay.  In long term marriages of 17 years of more, alimony is based upon need and ability to pay and could be a permanent situation.  There are about 30 statutory factors that a judge MAY consider in any ruling awarding alimony:  things like age and health of both parties, education level of the party requesting the alimony, marketable skills set, ability to earn a living, and many others. 

There was a recent challenge to the alimony laws in the State of Florida, but it was vetoed lst year by Florida Governor Rick Scott.  As it stands now, there are several types of alimony which may be awarded: short term or bridge the gap alimony, durational alimony which cannot be for longer than the marriage was, rehabilitative alimony to send a spouse back to school or train for a self supporting career,  and permanent alimony which is lifetime.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.famiilylawwpb.com for more information.

Short Term Marriages Usually Mean No Alimony In Divorce

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

If you are in a short term marriage defined as five years or less by the case law in the state of Florida, chances are you will not be able to collect alimony from your spouse in divorce court.   Or if you qualify, alimony will be of the bridge the gap variety, if at all.

Alimony or spousal support is based upon the relative incomes of the parties or the relative access to independent funds.  One spouse has to prove a need, and the other spouse’ ability to pay.  If a spouse has the need, but the other has no ability to pay, there will be no alimony irregardless of the length of the marriage.  Also, a court cannot award an alimony for a time that is longer than the marriage, if at all, unless the marriage is 17 plus years and the spouse qualifies for permanent alimony.

Bottom line, if you are in a short term marriage, chances are the court will not grant you any alimony unless it is also short term, as in bridge the gap alimony.   An award of alimony is determined by 30 statutory factors, so consult with one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com for more information.  REMEMBER:  divorce cases are fact driven and every case is different.  Remember too that Florida is a no fault state and alimony is generally not a punishment but an entitlement.

What Type Of Divorce Will You Have? Part 1: Alimony

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

In the state of Florida, there are legally defined, three types of marriages:  short term, durational, and long term marriages.   Depending upon where your marriage falls, this can determine what kind of divorce outcome you get.

Short term marriages fall into the category of 0-2 years.   In terms of litigation, if your spouse is asking for alimony, chances are the shorter the marriage, the less likely there is going to be an alimony award.   Two plus years up to 17 years of marriage falls into the durational marriage category.  What this means is, if a spouse shows need and that the other spouse has ability to pay, and there is disparate incomes, the court has the legal ability to award alimony up to the length of the marriage.  For example, in a 6 year marriage, the court cannot award alimony for 8 years.

Long term marriages are legally defined as 17 years plus.  In this type of marriage, the court has the ability to award a spouse lifetime or permanent alimony.   There are still many statutory factors that the court must consider in awarding alimony.  But length of the marriage determines the time frame for alimony.  If you are thinking about getting divorced in Palm Beach County, Florida, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 for more information or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com for more information.

What Is A Vocational Evaluation And When Is It Used In Court?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

I have a client whose wife has a college degree and a license to practice real estate sales.   However, the husband and wife agreed about 6 years ago, that the wife would stay home and raise the children as a stay at home mother.  The husband, my client, was and is the major breadwinner of the family. 

Now the children are in high school, and the wife is still a stay at home mom.  She has filed for divorce and wants a permanent alimony.  The wife wants to maintain the lifestyle of the marriage.  Except the husband is in the building industry and new home construction is down along with his income in this present economy.  The issue is does the wife have to go out to work now that she will be divorced?

So in order to prove that she is capable of earning a living, I motioned the court for a vocational study to determine her employability in today’s marketplace.   With her active license and her education level, the wife went off to the evaluator, who is a psychologist, for testing.   The testing most likely will result in the conclusion that the wife is employable at some salary.  Therefore my client’s (husband) obligation to pay a hefty alimony will be diminished because of the law of alimony, which is wife’s need in this case and husband’s ability to pay.  Her need will be lowered by my proving to the judge that she can work and earn something.   Her children are grown and I do believe the judge will take all of those findings into consideration in a lower alimony award than she expects. 

So what is the defense side?  If I were representing the wife, if I couldn’t prevent the motion for vocational evaluation by issuing a request for a protective order, then afterwards, I could negotiate a much larger piece of the marital estate instead of a 50/50 split in lieu of a permanent alimony.  That way my client (wife now) would get the money or assets up front and have the freedom to invest with her own control.  I would also focus on what she is capable of earning and the fact that she can’t find a job in real estate in this market.  Thereby I would have established her need for support even if albeit she gets only a small award of alimony.  She would have a larger portion of the marital estate and perhaps even remain in the marital home.

In conclusion, vocational evaluations are used in court to lower support obligations of the other party.  They are a very effective tool, but ultimately it is the judge who at his/her discretion decides what is going to be if the parties can’t come to some collaborative divorce resolution.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

What Is A Short Term Marriage And What Is The Legal Significance?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Marriages fall into several categories and depending upon the category, there are legal ramifications.  A marriage can be short term, middle of the road or long term.

In Palm Beach County, Florida, a short term marriage is approximately 1 to 5 years as defined by the case law.   If a spouse is seeking alimony support, the fact that the marriage is short term may work against that spouse.   Also, with regard to prenuptial agreements, if a marriage ends in the short term, a spouse may be better off without a prenuptial agreement than if there is one giving the other spouse a pay out.  In short term marriages, alimony is rarely given by the court, especially where the requesting spouse is employed or employable.

In 5 to 13 year marriages, this is called a gray area, and alimony awards depend upon other facts and circumstances in addition to the length of the marriage.

For those marriages that lasted longer than 14 years, the courts view those as long term marriages.  If a spouse has not worked during that time, or makes substantially less money than the other spouse, the court is likely to give either lump sum or permanent alimony.

There are many other factors a court considers in awarding alimony.  But the length of the marriage is very significant.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com.