Under Florida law in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court may grant alimony to either party. Alimony (also called maintenance or spousal support) is a legal obligation to provide financial support to one’s spouse from the other spouse after marital separation or from the ex-spouse upon divorce. In determining whether to award alimony, the court will first make a factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony. If the court finds that alimony is appropriate, the court may grant the following types of alimony: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent in nature, or any combination of these forms.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is meant to cover a short-term need as the recipient transitions to single life. The length of the award is limited to two years and it cannot be modified for any reason.
Rehabilitative alimony is intended to help support a spouse to allow him/her to renew old skills or gain new skills leading to self-support. It is intended to be short-term which enables a spouse to get back on their feet. This type of alimony is usually awarded to enable the spouse to go back to school or to acquire needed skills that would allow the spouse to be competitive in the job market.
Durational alimony is a short- erm alimony award that would be appropriate if none of the other categories are suitable. It is typically awarded to marriages between seven and 17 years. A durational award may be later modified in amount but not in length.
Permanent alimony is usually awarded after a long-term marriage and may be awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage. This type of alimony continues indefinitely until remarriage or death of the spouse.
The court may either award alimony in the form of periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. The court may also take into consideration of the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances of the divorce in determining the amount of alimony to be awarded, if any. For more information on alimony, see Florida Statute 61.08.