In general terms, alimony is a means for divorcing partners to maintain a quality of life similar to that which they experienced during the marriage. Also known as spousal support, alimony orders may come in different forms.
In many divorce cases, alimony is ordered by the court when there is a marked disparity between the incomes of the two spouses as well as their respective capacities to earn. Courts tend to order spouses who make considerably more in income than do their ex-spouse to pay spousal support. However, the type of alimony the court might order often depends upon a multitude of factors, including the duration of the marriage and the alimony recipient's proximity to financial independence. In Florida, courts may award alimony as a short-term tool or a long-term tool for achieving self-reliance.
The three main types of alimony are temporary, permanent and rehabilitative. Temporary alimony is usually ordered while the couple is going through the divorce process. Temporary alimony provides financial assistance until the divorce is finalized and the terms of the divorce settlement are enacted. While permanent alimony is an award of financial assistance made for the long term, it is not necessarily financial support into perpetuity. Moreover, permanent alimony might be modified or ceased altogether if certain circumstances change, such as when an alimony recipient remarries.
Rehabilitative alimony is designed to provide financial assistance while ex-spouses obtain training or education toward a viable career. These monthly payments provide support for alimony recipients who are actively seeking to increase their capacity for self-reliance.
Family courts possess a lot of discretion when determining alimony orders and typically do so on a case-by-case basis. For this reason alone, it is imperative for divorcing couples to individually seek out a family law attorney. Such a lawyer may represent an individual spouse's interests during both negotiations and litigation. Moreover, the lawyer may provide legal counsel pertaining to spousal support, which is not the aim of this particular blog post.
Source: National Paralegal College, "Types of Alimony / Spousal Support", November 12, 2014