Do You Really Need to Pay Alimony in Florida?

Why do I need to pay alimony?

The main reason someone will need to pay alimony, or spousal support as it’s now often called, is to make sure their spouse will be able to maintain a reasonable standard of living after divorce. For example, if one spouse is the primary source of income in the relationship, that person’s financial capabilities will skyrocket after divorce, and the other person’s will plummet.

Unlike other divorce laws, determining alimony in Florida varies from one situation to the next. While there are some guidelines to help establish how much someone might owe, there are no concrete rules judges need to follow to come up with an exact dollar amount.

3 things that determine how much alimony you owe

1. Length of marriage

If a marriage only lasts for a couple of years or less, there has been very little indication that one spouse is incapable of being financially independent. In this case, spousal support is very rarely considered.

The courts will consider whether it was a short, moderate or long-term marriage to determine how much each spouse owes.

  • Short-term: Fewer than seven years
  • Moderate-term: Between seven & 17 years
  • Long-term: More than 17 years.

Two marriages of equal length don’t necessarily lead to the same alimony amount, but it is something that will be considered in the calculation.

2. Additional effort put into the marriage

Finances are not the only contribution a spouse can make to a marriage. The courts take into consideration all effort a spouse puts toward the marriage to determine an appropriate dollar amount for alimony.

For example, one parent caring for the children more often thatn the other isn’t just used to determine child custody, but alimony as well. The effort a stay-at-home parent puts into a marriage is just as important as the money a working spouse brings home. They make it possible for the other spouse to go to work and bring home the amount of money they do without paying for child care, so their contribution for the family’s standard of living is just as valuable as the spouse bringing home a paycheck.

3. Professional earning capacity of each person

Just because someone is not the primary breadwinner in a relationship does not necessarily mean they don’t have the capacity to earn more than they do. Many factors can influence whether someone is making their full earning potential while in a marriage, such as whether they needed to take time off or go part-time to take care of children.

If someone has a college degree or experience in a demanding field, but they are currently a stay-at-home parent, their earning capacity is way higher than their current financial contribution to the marriage. When this is the case, current financial earnings and potential future earnings will both be taken into account when calculating alimony.

If you need help making sure you’re alimony payments will be fair, contact the attorneys at LaFrance Family Law.