Lakeland Alimony Attorney
Spousal support, or alimony, can provide short- or long-term financial relief for a spouse after a marriage ends. Our Lakeland alimony attorneys can help you request and secure alimony payments, contest a petition for alimony, or modify an existing order if circumstances in your life have changed.
Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara
Content last updated on: May 19, 2023
Alimony is financial support paid from one spouse to another after a divorce. It can be incredibly helpful, particularly in situations in which one spouse earned significantly less than the other during their marriage. However, alimony can be a source of contention in a separation, and it can be difficult for both spouses to see eye to eye on the issue.
Whether you are trying to establish payments, secure overdue spousal support, or modify an existing order, the O’Mara Law Group can help. Our Lakeland alimony attorneys have over 35 years of experience helping clients in Lakeland, Orlando, and throughout the state navigate these and other complicated family law issues with success.
We will provide the steady hand, support, and guidance you need during this stressful time. Contact our law office in Lakeland, Florida, today for a free consultation to discuss your specific needs.
What is alimony?
Alimony — or spousal support — is a payment from one spouse to another after the dissolution of the marriage. Spousal support payments are typically awarded in cases where one spouse:
- Put their career on hold to support the other spouse’s education or career or to raise a family
- Earned significantly less than the other before the divorce
During a marriage, both spouses pool resources and can enjoy the same standard of living. When the spouses split up, it can be difficult for the lesser-earning spouse or stay-at-home spouse to be financially independent and maintain a similar standard of living. Alimony offers temporary support to this spouse, helping them gain their footing and transition to single life with less stress.
Is alimony always awarded in Lakeland divorces?
No, alimony is not awarded every time a couple gets divorced in Lakeland, Florida. Under Florida Statute Section 61.08, courts will award alimony when:
- One spouse has an actual need for alimony or financial maintenance.
- The other spouse is able to pay alimony or financial maintenance.
There must be a demonstrated need for financial support and the capability to pay. Courts will not force a spouse to pay alimony if they can’t make payments or if the other party doesn’t need it.
Types of Spousal Support that Can be Awarded in Florida
Florida has four different types of alimony that can be awarded to a lesser-earning spouse in a Lakeland divorce:
Each type of alimony serves a different purpose.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is temporary support intended to help a lesser-earning spouse make a successful transition from married life to single life. It is intended to help with “identifiable short-term needs” such as rent, transportation, and other living expenses. Bridge-the-gap spousal support payments cannot exceed two years.
Rehabilitative alimony is temporary support that traditionally helps the lesser-earning spouse get back into the workforce. These alimony payments help the spouse refine previous work skills or credentials or acquire the training, education, or work experience needed to reenter the workforce.
Florida requires a “specific and defined rehabilitative plan” before rehabilitative alimony can be awarded. This type of alimony is directly tied to the performance and execution of the plan and can be modified or terminated if the rehabilitation efforts are abandoned. Alimony payments end once the rehabilitation plan is complete.
Durational alimony provides relief for a lesser-earning spouse over a more substantial period. While not permanent, it can be awarded for a “short or moderate duration” after the dissolution of a marriage that lasted for several years.
Florida lawmakers have introduced legislation to limit durational alimony to 50 percent of the length of a marriage lasting three to 10 years, 60 percent of the length of a marriage lasting 10 and 20 years, and 75 percent of the length of a marriage lasting more than 20 years. Permanent alimony would be prohibited, except in a few limited situations.
Permanent alimony can be awarded when it is clear that no other types of alimony will be appropriate and the lesser-earning spouse requires support to meet their “needs and necessities of life” after a divorce.
While permanent alimony can be awarded after marriages of any duration, it is typically reserved for marriages that lasted a long time. Exceptional circumstances — such as domestic violence or abuse — might also warrant an award of alimony in a short-term marriage.
How is alimony calculated in Lakeland, Florida?
Many factors are taken into consideration when a court determines an appropriate award of spousal support.
- What standard of living did the spouses enjoy during the marriage?
- How long were the spouses married?
- How old is each spouse?
- What are the physical and emotional conditions of each spouse?
- What are each spouse’s financial resources (taking separate assets and marital distributions into account)?
- What are the earning capacities, education, vocational skills, and employability of the spouses?
- How much time would be necessary for a lesser-earning spouse to receive training or education and secure gainful employment?
- What household or family contributions did the spouses make during the marriage?
- What child custody and support obligations will be implemented after the divorce?
Courts will consider any factor — including age, health, disability, or abuse — that could be relevant to the conversation about spousal support.
Ultimately, an award for spousal support cannot make it so that the net income of the paying spouse is less than the net income of the receiving spouse.
When do alimony payments in Lakeland end?
Unless alimony is permanent, payments will end:
- On the date specified in the divorce decree or spousal support agreement
- Upon the death of either spouse
- When the spouse receiving alimony payments remarries
Spousal support payments can be changed, modified, or terminated if either spouse can demonstrate an exceptional change in circumstances — such as job loss, disability, or serious health conditions.
Is alimony taxable in Florida?
Under Federal law, alimony payments are not taxable for all alimony agreements finalized on or after December 31, 2018. If you receive alimony as part of your divorce settlement in Florida, you do not have to pay tax on the money you get.
If you pay alimony as part of a divorce settlement in Florida, you are not permitted to deduct the payments on your tax return.
How Our Lakeland Alimony Lawyers Can Help You
Do you want to ask for alimony as part of your divorce settlement in Lakeland, Florida? Are you having trouble getting your spouse to agree to pay spousal support as part of your divorce negotiations? Has your ex-spouse refused to make payments? Have you experienced a significant change in your life and need to ask the court to adjust your spousal support obligations?
At the O’Mara Law Group, our Lakeland divorce attorneys have helped clients face these and other tough alimony issues. Whether you are fighting to get alimony or fighting against it, we have the experience, knowledge, and skills you need to get the best possible outcome in your spousal support dispute.
Our attorneys can help you face this difficult situation and work toward a mutually agreeable resolution with your spouse. If they refuse to cooperate, we are ready to advocate for you during mediation hearings, in arbitration, or before a judge in court.
We have over 35 years of experience handling these delicate and incredibly important family law disputes. Contact our Lakeland law office to discover how you can benefit from our vast resources and in-depth knowledge of Florida alimony law.
We would be happy to answer questions about your family law matter and help you devise a strategy in your alimony case. Call today for a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
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