In part 1, we introduced Florida alimony and the development of evidence to support a support award, including the role of marital misconduct. Today, we will focus on relevant factors that would support (or not support) a court order for alimony.
Make a budget
The judge’s first decision is whether one party needs alimony and the other has the means to pay it. The potential recipient should carefully develop an expected household budget after divorce so they can show the court why they will need alimony to meet their basic needs. This may require research into the costs involved to establish and maintain their new, separate household. The party should think broadly about whether there will be expenses outside of the norm, so they do not undervalue their needs.
The court must consider “all relevant factors” impacting an alimony award that would “do equity and justice between the parties,” including specifically:
- Marital standard of living
- Length of marriage
- Each spouse’s age and physical and emotional health
- Each spouse’s financial resources
- Each spouse’s education, skills, employability and earning capacity as well as the time needed to get education to become employable
- Each party’s contributions to the marriage, including “homemaking, childcare, education, and career building of the other party.”
- Each party’s future responsibilities for their children
- Tax consequences of alimony
- Each person’s income sources, including investment income
The person seeking alimony should sit down with their lawyer and conduct a comprehensive analysis of these factors and determine what evidence they must gather to establish them in court. Because the law sweeps broadly, instructing judges to look at anything relevant, the client should not hesitate to bring up special circumstances that would support the need for alimony, even if not on the list.
For example, the recipient may have a debilitating disease or mental impairment, or care for an adult disabled child or elderly parent. In some cases, the judge may even find justification for permanent alimony.
Economic and vocational evidence
The spouse seeking alimony should establish their educational, vocational and professional history, especially if they had a break in their career to raise children or maintain the marital household during the marriage, during which time the other spouse’s career took off. The homemaker spouse’s skills or knowledge in their field may be out of date or licenses or certifications could have expired. If feasible to return to work after divorce, they may need alimony during a time of retraining, justifying rehabilitative alimony.
An experienced family attorney can assist with identifying and developing important evidence of the need for alimony.