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Short-Term Marriages and Permanent Alimony


Under Florida law, permanent alimony is usually only awarded when the marriage being dissolved lasted for at least a moderate length of time and there is convincing evidence that the award is appropriate. Fortunately, there is an exception for those whose marriages were short-term, although it can still be difficult to receive permanent alimony in these cases, so if you are going through a divorce and believe that you qualify for alimony payments, you should speak with an experienced alimony attorney who can help protect your interests.

What is a Moderate-Term Marriage? 

In order to qualify as a moderate-term marriage under state law, a marriage must have lasted for more than seven, but less than 17 years. Short-term marriages, on the other hand, are those that last for fewer than seven years. In most cases, permanent alimony is only awarded in cases where a marriage was moderate or long-term in nature. There are, however, exceptions for short-term marriages when the court finds that exceptional circumstances exist.

What Qualifies as an Exceptional Circumstance? 

What qualifies as a circumstance exceptional enough to merit an award of permanent alimony depends on the specific facts of each case. However, courts have generally affirmed permanent alimony after short-term marriages are dissolved when the recipient or one of the couple’s children is suffering from a serious and debilitating medical condition or a disabling injury that occurred during the marriage. This could include physical ailments, as well as mental issues, such as depression. In both cases, courts have found that the award of permanent alimony is appropriate, even when the spouses were married for a short time. While courts do assess when medical conditions arose when deciding whether permanent alimony is appropriate, they are generally more concerned with whether a spouse is capable of supporting him or herself.

Other Factors  

When evaluating whether exceptional circumstances exist, courts are also directed to evaluate a number of other factors, including:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The age and physical and emotional condition of the parties;
  • Each party’s financial resources;
  • The time it would take to acquire enough education or training to enable a spouse to secure employment;
  • All sources of income available to the parties; and
  • Each party’s contribution to the marriage, which could include homemaking services, child care, education, and supporting the other party’s career.

Only when these factors support an award and a court finds that exceptional circumstances exist, can a spouse whose marriage lasted fewer than seven years receive permanent alimony.

Call Our Fort Lauderdale Legal Team Today  

Receiving alimony can make all the difference in whether a person can begin the process of moving on with his or her life after divorce. If you are filing for divorce and have questions or concerns about collecting alimony, please call 954-945-7591 today to discuss your case with experienced and compassionate alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. who will evaluate your case for free and help explain your legal options.



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