How does the length of my marriage determine what kind of alimony I will have to pay or receive?

In Florida, the length of a marriage is defined as the date you and your spouse are married though the date either party files an action for dissolution of marriage. The length marriage affects a spouse’s entitlement to certain types of alimony. In Florida there is what is referred to as a short term marriage, a moderate term marriage and long term marriage.

.A short term marriage is a marriage lasting less that 7 years. A spouse in a short-term marriage is entitled to all forms of alimony, however permanent alimony is only available if the Court makes a written finding that there are “exceptional circumstances” that justify an award of permanent alimony. Typically, permanent alimony is not granted in short term marriages.

A moderate term marriage is a marriage lasting more that 7 years, but less that 17 years. A spouse of a moderate term marriage is also eligible for all forms of alimony, however, to receive permanent alimony, the needy spouse must show that permanent alimony is proper by “clear and convincing evidence.” Clear and convincing evidence is generally comprised by things such as the disparity in the parties’ income, the need of the requesting spouse, evidence that one party forewent a career to raise children, and also the lifestyle that the parties were accustomed to while the marriage was intact.

A long term marriage in a marriage lasting for 17 years or more. A needy spouse of a long term marriage is eligible for all forms of alimony. There is a restriction regarding permanent alimony in that permanent alimony may only be awarded if no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. For example, the needy spouse might not have a need for ongoing support on a permanent basis. In that circumstance, the Court could order an award of durations alimony as opposed to permanent.

For more information about alimony or to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, please contact us at (904) 722-3333 or send us and inquiry through our website.