Alimony Lawyer in Orlando
Facing divorce when you are not the primary income earner can be a frightening prospect. The alimony attorneys at the O’Mara Law Group serving Orlando, Lakeland, and surrounding areas can anticipate your needs during this time and ensure your alimony award affords you financial stability after the divorce.
The state of Florida recognizes that divorcing spouses are entitled to a fair and equitable distribution of the income and assets they jointly gained during the marriage. Alimony is one method the court uses to accomplish this.
The O’Mara Law Group has 35 years of experience helping divorcing couples settle Alimony issues and are here to help you. Our offices are located in the Orlando & Lakeland area. Call us at (407) 988-0350 to speak with a qualified legal professional about your case.
What is alimony?
Alimony is spousal support that the divorce court orders one spouse to pay another following a divorce or marital separation. Alimony may be paid in the form of periodic payments or as a lump sum, according to Florida alimony laws. The court may also require either party to purchase a life insurance policy to protect the alimony award.
The purpose of alimony is to ensure the receiving spouse has the necessary financial resources to enjoy a standard of living similar to that which was attained during the marriage.
Florida Alimony Laws
Alimony is not automatically awarded in divorce proceedings, and either spouse may be ordered to pay alimony based on the financial circumstances of both spouses. Before alimony can be awarded, the court must establish whether one party needs alimony and whether the other party has the ability to pay it.
The court takes these factors into consideration:
What is the maximum alimony award?
The state does not set a maximum. However, when determining an alimony award, the court must ensure the paying party’s remaining income is not significantly lower than the resulting income of the receiving party, unless warranted by documented exceptional circumstances.
How are alimony payments enforced?
Alimony payments can be made directly to the recipient or through the state depository. If payments are not made when due, the receiving party can report delinquent payments to the state depository for enforcement. If payment is made through the state depository, this will be handled automatically.
Delinquent alimony payments can be collected by court order through wage garnishment if necessary. If the failure to pay alimony is due to a lack of ability, the burden of proof is on the payor. In these cases, the court can order the payor to seek employment or hold them in contempt.
Alimony is awarded based on need. When the payor fails to provide payments, it can dramatically impact the recipient’s life. If you are facing this circumstance, an alimony attorney at the O’Mara Law Group can help you enforce the alimony order so that your financial health is not derailed.
Types of Alimony in Florida
Due to the wide range of circumstances that can accompany a divorce, the state of Florida allows courts to order one or a combination of four types of alimony.
Bridge-the-gap alimony is awarded to assist the receiving party with the transition from being married to divorced when the court has been able to identify specific short-term needs. This type of alimony may be awarded if you have temporary special needs or have been out of the workforce for a period of time. It cannot be awarded for more than two years.
Rehabilitative alimony is ordered to assist a party in becoming self-supporting by providing financial support that allows the receiving spouse to obtain the necessary education and training to become employable. When this type of alimony is awarded, a rehabilitation plan is required.
The rehabilitation plan generally requires the receiving party to use the alimony funds to obtain any combination of the following:
This type of alimony may be awarded in cases involving a spouse who has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time while caring for children or providing domestic services.
Durational alimony is alimony that is ordered for a set period of time after short-term and medium-term marriages, or after long-term marriages when permanent alimony is inappropriate or unneeded. Durational alimony cannot be ordered for a period that exceeds the length of the marriage.
Permanent alimony is awarded to provide for the needs of the receiving party that were established during the marriage when the party lacks the ability to self-support, usually after a long marriage. Permanent alimony can only be awarded if the court finds that no other type of alimony would be fair or reasonable.
Although rare, permanent alimony may be awarded after a medium-length marriage with clear and convincing evidence of its appropriateness and after a short marriage with exceptional circumstances that are documented. Permanent alimony can only be modified if substantial changes in circumstances occur.
Is alimony taxable?
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), alimony that was ordered prior to January 1, 2019 is taxable income to the recipient. However, under newer rules, alimony ordered after January 1, 2019 is not taxable.
Is alimony tax-deductible?
Prior to January 1, 2019 court-ordered alimony was deductible when reporting income to the IRS. This still affects alimony payments ordered before that date. However, any payments ordered after January 1, 2019 are not tax-deductible. This includes any modifications that occur after this date.
How long does alimony last?
The duration of alimony payments varies based on the type of alimony ordered and is specific to each case.
Alimony generally terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving party. In addition, alimony may also be modified or terminated if the receiving party enters into another supportive relationship wherein support benefits similar to marriage are provided.
Can alimony payments be adjusted?
Alimony can be adjusted if the type of alimony awarded is adjustable and there is a substantial change in the circumstances of either party. Under Florida statute 61.14, modifications of alimony can take the form of increased or decreased payments, termination of alimony, adjustments in the duration of the alimony, and conversion of one type of alimony to another.
Bridge-the-gap alimony may not be modified in either duration or amount. Durational alimony can be modified in amount, but not in duration. Rehabilitative alimony may be converted to another form of alimony upon completion of the rehabilitation plan.
Substantially changed circumstances that affect the payor’s ability to pay or that substantially change the needs of the recipient can warrant a payment adjustment. Examples of changed circumstances may include, but are not limited to, for either the paying or receiving party:
Why should I choose the O’Mara Law Group?
The divorce process is emotionally charged and can be contentious, but the experienced alimony attorneys at the O’Mara Law Group know how to diffuse the tension and mediate an equitable solution. Mark O’Mara, founder of the O’Mara Law Group, is a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and one of only 275 board certified marital and family law lawyers in Florida.
Most alimony cases settle without the necessity of litigation. This is usually in the best interests of both parties because it takes less time and expense. However, our alimony attorneys are skilled litigators who can provide strong advocacy in the event it becomes necessary to try your case in court.
The O’Mara Law Group has built its reputation on helping good people through difficult situations. Our attorneys are compassionate and understanding and possess a strong grasp on the high stakes faced by individuals undergoing a divorce.
Being the spouse with fewer financial resources does not mean you have to go through your divorce without strong advocacy. Consult an Orlando alimony lawyer today.
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