When people decide to file for divorce, either spouse can request alimony. However, an award of alimony is not automatic. Simply asking for alimony in your divorce paperwork does not guarantee you will receive it. Instead, Florida judges consider multiple factors when deciding whether or not to award alimony to a spouse.
Factors courts consider when deciding whether to award alimony
Under § 61.08, Fla. Stat. (2020), courts can grant durational, permanent, or rehabilitative alimony to either party, but an alimony order will be in the court’s discretion after considering the following factors:
- Adultery on the party of either spouse
- If the requesting spouse has an actual need for alimony
- Whether the other spouse has the ability to pay alimony
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The ages, emotional health, and physical condition of both parties
- The educational levels and earning capacities of both parties
- What each party contributed during the marriage
- Any responsibilities a spouse might have to care for minor children
- The tax consequences for both parties for an alimony award
- The income sources available to both parties
The list is not exhaustive, and the court can consider other relevant factors when deciding whether to grant an alimony award.
How alimony might be awarded
If a family law judge decides to grant an alimony request, the award might be in periodic payments or in a lump sum. The court might also order rehabilitative alimony that lasts for a short period to help the recipient complete an education or job training. Judges might award permanent alimony when the marriage lasted for a long time and the lower-earning spouse is unlikely to be able to complete job training or education that will sufficiently allow him or her to become financially independent.
Even when there is a large income disparity between spouses, the court may still decide against awarding alimony after considering all of the factors. If people do not request alimony in their divorce paperwork, they cannot come back later after the divorce has been finalized and do so.