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What Is the Permanent Alimony Presumption?

Alimony—also known as spousal support—is where one spouse provides financial assistance to another spouse during divorce proceedings and sometimes for a period following a divorce. Spousal support payments are intended to help parties maintain a standard of living established during their marriage.

Individuals with substantial assets who are getting divorced after a long-term marriage should be cautious about alimony issues. In such cases, your former spouse might argue for permanent alimony. However, an understanding of Florida law can help you protect the wealth to which you are entitled from access by your former spouse. There are five subcategories of spousal support that differ in their terms, depending on the specific needs of the parties.

The different forms of spousal support are:

  • Bridge-the-gap alimony helps a spouse transition into their new post-divorce lifestyle and usually does not exceed two years.
  • Rehabilitative spousal support helps a spouse pay for training and education to secure gainful employment.
  • Durational alimony covers situations where the other categories are not sufficient to support the spouse and lasts only as long as the marriage lasted.
  • Permanent spousal support is awarded for spouses who can't become self-supporting and have a permanent economic need for spousal support.

The Permanent Alimony Presumption

Under Florida law, there is a presumption that permanent periodic alimony should be awarded to a spouse after a long-term marriage. Florida Statutes § 61.08 establishes a rebuttable presumption that a marriage exceeding seventeen years is a long-term marriage. Florida courts have held that the age of the spouse requesting alimony, or their ability to earn some income, will not rebut the presumption of permanent alimony without more information.

As a result, a party who does not want to pay permanent alimony must rebut the permanent alimony presumption that arises in a marriage that lasted longer than seventeen years. This involves demonstrating why either bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, or durational alimony is more appropriate than permanent alimony.

When a Florida court is tasked with determining an appropriate spousal support award, it must assess the following factors:

  • The marital standard of living
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The ages and physical and emotional conditions of the parties
  • Each party’s financial resources
  • The earning ability of each party
  • Each party’s contribution to the marriage, including homemaking and child care
  • The parties’ respective responsibilities regarding any minor children
  • The tax consequences of any alimony award
  • The income sources of the parties
  • Other factors that are just and equitable

Consult Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office for Legal Advice

If you need quality legal advice for an issue arising from your divorce, such as alimony or spousal support, you should contact the Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office. Attorney Bernstein has been helping clients with various family law matters for more than 33 years.

Contact the Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office at (727) 312-1112 to schedule an appointment today.  

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