Fort Lauderdale Alimony Lawyer
Alimony lawyer providing thorough compassionate advice
The purpose of alimony is generally to rehabilitate, but it may also provide for the necessities of life for marriages that last for more than 17 years. While the paying spouses almost universally recognize their obligation to support their children, many of them have significantly more difficulty justifying why they should pay for someone to whom they are no longer married. At Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, our Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyers will help you negotiate alimony agreements for a fair and favorable result.
How is spousal support decided?
During the dissolution of marriage, if a marital settlement agreement (MSA) is not drafted, the court first makes a factual determination as to whether:
- One party has a need for alimony
- The other party has the ability to pay the spousal alimony or maintenance
If the court finds in the affirmative for both elements, it then determines the proper alimony type and amount. The court relies on a multifaceted analysis of facts surrounding the marriage, including:
- Duration of the marriage
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Physical health of each spouse
- Age of each spouse
- Emotional health of each spouse
- Financial resources of each spouse, including nonmarital and marital assets and liabilities
- Contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including noneconomic work such as housekeeping, childcare, education, and career building
- Earning capacity of each spouse
- Any other factors necessary to ensure an equitable split
What types of alimony are available in Florida?
The state of Florida recognizes the following types of spousal support:
- Bridge-the-gap alimony — This type of alimony is awarded to assist one spouse in transitioning from being married to being single. It is focused on short-term needs and is statutorily limited to a maximum of two years. Bridge-the-gap alimony is not modifiable and terminates at the death of either spouse.
- Rehabilitative alimony —Also focused on assisting one spouse to gain or redevelop employable skills so that the spouse can self-support, rehabilitative alimony requires a specific, defined plan to be awarded. It may be modified because of significantly changed circumstances, noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan or completion of the plan.
- Permanent alimony — Permanent alimony is based on the typical spousal support factors and is awarded on a sliding scale of scrutiny based upon the duration of the marriage being dissolved. Marriages are divided into three categories:
- Short term: Less than 7 years
- Moderate: Between 7 and 17 years
- Long term: Greater than 17 years.
To be awarded permanent alimony, the court must find that other forms of spousal support are not appropriate based on the circumstances of the parties involved.
- Durational alimony — This type of alimony is sometimes awarded when it would be unfair to award permanent alimony. Durational alimony provides support for a set time period after the dissolution of a short- or moderate-term marriage. While the amount of the alimony may be changed, the length of a durational alimony agreement must not exceed the length of the marriage and may not be extended.
Alimony can be Addressed in a Prenuptial Agreement
Alimony is a subject that is commonly addressed in prenuptial agreements, which are signed prior to marriage and set out guidelines for settling different matters in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements generally address alimony in one of two ways:
- One spouse waives their right to alimony following a divorce; or
- The spouses predetermine the amount of alimony that would be paid.
This can often be the case if one spouse marries someone who has significantly more wealth than they do and restrictions on alimony in a prenuptial agreement will aim to prevent a spouse from demanding an exorbitant amount of spousal support. However, such provisions regarding alimony are not always enforceable as written.
Florida has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which allows one spouse to effectively waive alimony under many circumstances. However, if the spouse did not understand what they were signing, were not informed of the effects of the prenuptial agreement, or did not understand the financial situation of the person they were marrying, the court may not hold the agreement enforceable. In such cases, alimony waivers may not be upheld by the court.
In addition, courts often alter provisions of prenuptial agreements that set a specific amount of alimony. For instance, if the amount specified in a prenuptial agreement would leave one spouse living in poverty while the other thrived, a court can order a higher amount of alimony to be paid so that the award is fair and just under the circumstances and so the party will not require public assistance. If you have a prenuptial agreement that addresses alimony, you will want to have an experienced alimony attorney review the agreement as soon as possible.
Modification of Alimony Orders
Many circumstances change over time and some can render an alimony award to be unfair or inappropriate. In such cases, you have the right to request that the court modify the alimony order. For example, if you have been ordered to pay a certain amount of alimony, you may want to seek a modification if the following occur:
- You lose your job or have a substantial and involuntary decrease in income;
- You become ill or disabled;
- Your ex-spouse finds gainful employment and can support themselves;
- You ex-spouse gets remarried.
On the other hand, if the paying individual has a windfall, the recipient may wish to increase the amount of alimony. Any time you believe an alimony modification may be necessary, you should discuss your rights and options with an alimony lawyer.
Enforcement of Alimony Orders
If a court orders your ex-spouse to pay alimony and they fail to do so, you can petition the court to enforce its order. If they still refuse to obey the court order, they may be held in contempt, may have to pay fines, or may even spend time in jail. If you are not receiving the alimony to which you are entitled, consult with an experienced alimony lawyer who understands methods of enforcement under Florida law.
For a free alimony consultation, contact our Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer
When you decide to file for divorce in Florida, you should consult an experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney for advice. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC is close to Broward Hospital, north of Davie Avenue, and just three blocks from the county courthouse. Call us today at 954.817.0402 or contact us online. Our office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday and Friday. For your convenience, we offer Saturday appointments upon request.