What types of alimony are there?
Florida has different types of alimony. If the judge decides to grant alimony in your case, s/he must also decide which type is appropriate.
Bridge the gap alimony may be awarded to help you make a transition from being married to being single. This type of alimony is to assist you with specific short-term needs. The length of the alimony award cannot be longer than 2 years (but can end earlier than that if you get re-married or if you or your spouse dies). The amount of alimony or the length of time that it is paid cannot be modified by the judge.1
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to help you gain the ability to support yourself through:
- redeveloping your previous skills or credentials; or
- getting the education, training, or work experience you need to develop work skills or credentials.
This type of alimony will only be awarded if there is a specific and defined rehabilitative plan. It can be changed or ended when there is a significant change in circumstances, if you are not following the rehabilitative plan, or if you finish the rehabilitative plan.2
Durational alimony can be awarded when permanent alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of this type of alimony is to give you financial assistance for a specific period of time if your marriage is considered to be a short-term or moderate-term marriage (up to 17 years), or if your marriage was a long-term marriage (17 years or more) but you have no need for permanent economic support. This type of alimony ends when you or your spouse dies, or if you get married. 3
Note: The judge can change or end the amount of alimony amount based on a significant change in circumstances. However, the length of time of the alimony award cannot be changed except under exceptional circumstances and cannot be longer than the length of your marriage.4
A judge can grant permanent alimony to provide for your needs and necessities of life as they were established during your marriage if you lack the financial ability to meet your needs and necessities. The judge must believe that no other types of alimony (explained above) are fair and reasonable based on the circumstances. This type of alimony may be awarded:
- when your marriage was a long-term marriage (17 years or more);
- if your marriage was a moderate-term marriage (between 7 and 17 years) and such an award is appropriate based upon clear and convincing evidence;
- if your marriage was a short-term marriage (less than 7 years) but there are exceptional circumstances.
Permanent alimony ends when you or your spouse dies, or when you get re-married.
Note: A judge can change or end an award if there is a significant change in circumstances or if the person receiving alimony enters into a “supportive relationship” with another person, such as a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend.5 To read the legal definition of a supportive relationship, go to our FL Statutes page.
1 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(5)
2 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(6)
3 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(4),(7)
4 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(7)
5 Fla. Stat. §§ 61.08(4),(8); 61.14(a),(b)