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.

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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 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.

Divorce and the wedding gifts…who gets what?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

I have some clients who just realized they made a mistake.  The marriage is only 3 months old, or one year old, or anything inbetween, making it a short lived experience.  The question becomes who gets what.

In short term marriages, generally there is no entitlement to alimony or attorneys fees, unless a prenuptial agreement says otherwise.    As far as equitable distribution of assets and debts goes, what  you come into the marriage with you go out of the marriage with…unless it is joint property.

Wedding gifts to either party is considered marital or joint property.  However, in short term situations, where the parties can reasonably discuss the fact that they rushed into something and made a mistake, then usually they can agree that the wife’s friends and family gifts go to her and the husband’s friends and family gifts go to him.  If there is something of exceptional value, then one party should “buy out” the other.  Another way to divide the wedding gifts, yet more difficult,  is by value.  Ideally, the two parties should come out with relatively the same amount of value.

Another topic in divorce is who pays for the wedding?  If one party paid for the wedding, that is seen as a voluntary act, pre marital.  If, by agreement, the parties can split the costs,  the marital settlement agreement should indicate that. 

For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the attorneys at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.