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Will The Duration Of My Marriage Affect The Outcome Of My Divorce?


There are a number of factors that courts take into account when making important divorce-related determinations, like whether one party will be required to pay alimony, how child custody will be shared, and property division. One of the most critical factors, however, especially in regards to decisions about alimony, is the length of a couple’s marriage. Basically, the nature and extent of an alimony award will be based, at least partially, on the duration of the parties’ marriage. For help determining how the length of your own marriage could affect the terms of your divorce, consider reaching out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer today.

Marriage Length Categories

Under Florida law, marriages are placed into one of the following three categories based on their duration:

  • Short-term marriages, which includes marriages of up to seven years;
  • Moderate-duration marriages, which includes unions lasting between seven and 17 years; and
  • Long-term marriages, which includes marriages of 17 or more years.

Which of these categories a marriage falls under will largely dictate the type of alimony that a lesser earning spouse is eligible for.

Presumptions for and Against Certain Types of Alimony Awards

The length of a couple’s marriage will have the biggest effect on determining the type of alimony award that is appropriate following divorce. For short-term marriages, for instance, there is a presumption against permanent alimony. Permanent alimony, as its name suggests, remains in place until a court deems it no longer necessary. Moderate-duration marriages, on the other hand, are more likely to result in a durational alimony award. Durational alimony is a type of support that is specifically designed to help a lesser earning spouse, but only for a set period of time. Finally, there is a presumption that permanent alimony is appropriate following the end of a long-term marriage, but only if the court determines that there is a need and an ability to pay.

Besides durational and permanent alimony, courts are also willing to award two other types of spousal maintenance, known as:

  • Bridge-the-gap alimony, which doesn’t exceed two years and, like durational alimony, is intended to help lesser earning spouses get back on their feet; and
  • Rehabilitative alimony, which is designed to help one of the parties improve themselves by covering the cost of job training or education.

Legal Representation When in Need

Ending a marriage often requires couples to contend with legally complicated issues. Determining whether alimony is appropriate following a divorce can, for instance, be extremely difficult, as it requires an in-depth analysis of the couple’s finances. A number of factors, including the length of a couple’s marriage, could have a profound impact on how these issues are resolved. To ensure that your own rights and interests aren’t damaged because of your lack of understanding of these types of complex legal issues, please call dedicated Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591. You do not need to go through this process alone.


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