One of the more common questions we receive from clients is:
“Will I have to pay alimony if I get divorced?”
Unfortunately, that question is not easily answered. Having to pay alimony in Florida depends on several factors unique to your personal divorce case.
To help you understand how alimony works in most Florida divorce cases, let’s cover some basic alimony principles you should know.
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is financial support ordered by the court and paid to your spouse.
For a spouse to receive alimony they must be able to demonstrate that they have a need for financial support and that the other spouse can pay them.
It is important to note that a spouse who wants alimony must request alimony in their divorce petition or divorce counter-petition. If they fail to ask the court to order alimony in their petition, it cannot be granted by a Judge at all.
In other words, if your spouse does not ask for alimony they cannot automatically get it.
Finding a “Need For” and an “Ability to Pay”
Florida Statute 61.08 subsection (2) says:
“In determining whether to award alimony or maintenance, the court shall first make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance.”
This means the Judge will have to find evidence that supports the requesting spouse’s claim that they have a need for financial support. It also means the Judge will have to find evidence that supports the paying spouse can afford to make alimony payments.
Usually, your income is the first guideline used in this determination. If you make substantially more than your spouse, or if your spouse is a homemaker or otherwise unemployed, a court could determine that the difference in income between you and your spouse calls for some form of spousal support for the spouse in need.
Once a court has determined that the spouse requesting alimony has proven that they need alimony, and that the paying spouse has the money to provide the support requested, the Judge then has to determine the proper type and amount of alimony to order.
How Much Alimony Will I Have to Pay
To determine the proper type and amount of alimony to order, Florida Statute 61.08, outlines ten factors the Judge must consider.
Some of these factors include:
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The age, physical, and emotional condition of each spouse
- The financial resources of each spouse (including all income and assets)
- The earning capacities, educational levels, and ability to obtain employment
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, which include homemaking, child rearing, education and career building of the other spouse
- The adultery of either spouse and the surrounding circumstances
There are several other factors in addition to those listed above, so it is important to speak with an experienced divorce attorney about your specific situation, so you understand how alimony impacts you personally.
Once the Judge determines the appropriate amount and type of alimony to award in your case, the Judge can then order you to pay that amount and type of alimony to your spouse.
The good news is that Florida’s Alimony Statute requires an award of alimony to one spouse does not leave the paying spouse with significantly less net income than the spouse receiving alimony (although there may be exceptions).
Ultimately, while it never feels fair, this is the court’s way of ensuring an award of alimony doesn’t financially cripple the paying spouse.
When Will I Start Paying Alimony
Unless your spouse has requested and been awarded temporary alimony. Your alimony payments should begin on a date as ordered by the Judge. Usually, this date is shortly after your divorce is finalized.
However, if your spouse has requested and is awarded temporary alimony before your divorce is final, you will need to begin payments as ordered by the Judge in your case.
To learn more about whether or not alimony applies to your Orlando divorce case click here to request a consultation or call 407-872-3161 to speak with someone from our team today.