Does your spouse’s situation really qualify for permanent alimony?

| Feb 3, 2021 | Alimony

If you have spent your entire professional life supporting your family, including your spouse, you may resent the idea that you will have to continue supporting your ex even after you divorce. You’ve worked hard your entire adult life to develop your career, so needing to pay a substantial amount of what you make in alimony every month can seem patently unfair.

In a worst-case scenario, your spouse might go to the courts and request permanent alimony, meaning that you will have to keep paying them indefinitely. Does your spouse qualify for permanent alimony under Florida law, or do you have the option of fighting back and reducing the duration of the alimony order?

How the Florida courts decide the length of alimony

The judge presiding over a divorce case has to consider multiple family circumstances when setting the amount of alimony and deciding how long it will last. The length of your marriage is an important consideration.

For most couples, marriages that last less than 17 years will only qualify for short-term or rehabilitative alimony. Marriages under seven years long are short-term marriages under state law, while those that last from seven to 17 years are moderate-length marriages. Only long-term marriages that last 17 years or more generally make a dependent spouse eligible for permanent alimony.

Even in long-term marriages, permanent alimony may not be appropriate or necessary. If your spouse still has the option of working and supporting them, you could request that alimony only last long enough for them to get established in their job or to obtain the necessary education. 

Special circumstances may lead to longer-term alimony requirements

There are specific scenarios in which the courts could decide that permanent alimony is the fairest outcome.

If your spouse has a serious illness that will prevent them from supporting themselves after the divorce, permanent alimony could be appropriate. The same is true of a situation where your spouse will have primary custody of a child with special needs who will never live independently. Finally, permanent alimony could be fair if you are at or past the age of retirement and your spouse has no established career.

If you feel like your spouse only wants to punish you by getting as much alimony as possible, pushing back against their request could help you secure financial freedom sooner after your divorce.

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