The Permanent Alimony Presumption
When couples divorce, they are required to contend with a host of complicated issues, including how marital property will be divided and whether one party must pay alimony to the other upon finalization of the divorce. Determining the latter can be complicated, especially for couples who have been married for many years, so if you and your spouse are considering divorce and you believe that you may be required to pay, or will be owed alimony payments on a permanent basis, it is important to contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney who can advise you.
What is the Permanent Alimony Presumption?
In Florida, there are four main types of spousal support, including:
- Bridge-the-gap alimony, which is intended to help a former spouse transition into post-divorce life and so in most cases, will not exceed two years;
- Rehabilitative alimony, which helps former spouses secure employment by covering the cost of education and training;
- Durational alimony, which applies in situations where bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative alimony are not enough to financially support a former spouse and is paid for as many years as the marriage lasted; and
- Permanent alimony, which is awarded in cases where one of the parties cannot become self-supporting and has a permanent financial need for assistance.
Although courts are generally wary of awarding permanent alimony, they are willing to do so in certain situations. In fact, Florida courts automatically presume that permanent alimony is appropriate when a couple had a long-term marriage, which means that it lasted for 17 or more years. While it is possible to rebut this presumption and prove that permanent alimony is not appropriate in a specific case, petitioners are prohibited from bringing up the age of the spouse, or that person’s earning ability in doing so.
Rebutting the Presumption
The permanent alimony presumption can be overcome if a trial court makes detailed findings of fact indicating that both spouses are financially self-sufficient. This could include proof regarding:
- The receiving spouse’s need;
- The other spouse’s ability to pay permanent alimony;
- Each party’s financial resources, including non-marital property;
- Both parties’ contributions to the marriage;
- Whether the couple shares any minor children;
- The tax consequences of a permanent alimony award;
- The parties’ sources of income; and
- Both parties physical and emotional health.
Courts are only willing to overcome the presumption in favor of permanent alimony when the application of these factors to a specific case indicates that permanent alimony would not be appropriate. This can be a difficult burden to meet, making it especially important for those whose marriages qualify as long-term and who have decided to get divorced, to consult with an attorney about their legal options before bringing the matter to court.
Call Today with Your Alimony-Related Questions and Concerns
To speak with an experienced alimony lawyer about whether the permanent alimony presumption applies to you, please call Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today. Initial case evaluations are offered free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online at your earliest convenience.