Alimony: What Findings Are Needed?

Judges handling divorce cases in Florida are required to make specific findings of fact when awarding alimony. In Gray v. Gray, the Former Husband appealed the trial court’s ruling awarding the Former Wife permanent alimony in the amount of $30,000 per month. The First District Court of Appeal reversed the ruling and found that the trial court did not make findings required by the statute and was not based on supported by competent substantial evidence. At the time of the final hearing, the Former Husband made $220,000 a year and received income from a family trust. The Former Husband presented testimony at trial that the Former Wife could earn employment in the communications field within six months at an anticipated annual income of $45,000. The Wife’s financial affidavit claimed that her monthly expenses were only $17,907 a month. The trial court made the following findings in the final judgment:

“With respect to alimony, the Court has considered the factors set forth in Section 61.08(2), Florida Statutes. The Court finds based on the length of the marriage of the parties, . . . the affluent lifestyle enjoyed by the parties during the marriage, the financial resources of each party, including both marital and non-marital, the earning capacity of both parties, the contribution of each party to the marriage and all sources of income, that the Wife is entitled to permanent periodic alimony. In addition, in determining the amount of alimony to be awarded to the Wife, the Court considered the tax implications of the alimony award, the child support guidelines and the fact that the Husband has agreed to pay for all of the children's private school tuition, daycare and extra-curricular activities.”

The trial court did not make specific findings of fact regarding the Former Wife’s need for alimony in the amount of $30,000 a month nor did it make findings that the Former Husband had the present ability to pay $30,000 a month. The trial court also failed to impute income to the Wife. The First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling and found that there was not substantial competent evidence to support the award of $30,000 a month in alimony. If you have questions regarding alimony and your potential case, contact your expert family law attorney to discuss these questions further.