No couple enters into a marriage thinking about divorce and the resulting fallout. However, more and more Tampa couples find themselves confronting this extremely emotional and highly-charged situation.
No matter how divorce happens in Tampa, there are a lot of myths and false assumptions surrounding alimony. It’s so widespread that divorce lawyers have to spend considerable amounts of time educating their clients on how the process actually works. Alimony can be especially confusing because it varies from case to case.
Experienced and Knowledgable Tampa Alimony Lawyers
To better understand alimony and how it applies if you’re facing a divorce in Tampa, our team of knowledgeable Tampa divorce lawyers at Robert Sparks Attorneys can guide you through the alimony process during this challenging time.
We’re proud to offer free consultations for any client, and you can schedule one by contacting us here.
What is Alimony in a Tampa Divorce?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, refers to financial support that one spouse may provide to the other after a divorce. Generally speaking, there are different circumstances that can determine just how much alimony will be provided and the duration in which alimony can be awarded. Alimony is not automatically awarded in Florida and is instead determined on a case-by-case basis. However, most divorces in Tampa involve alimony.
In Florida, alimony can fall under four categories: permanent, rehabilitative, transitional, and durational. Each type of alimony has its own set of guidelines and requirements, but all are designed to provide a dependent spouse the financial support they need to maintain the standard of living they had while they were married.
- Rehabilitative alimony – Rehabilitative alimony is a short-term measure that is designed for a spouse to land on their feet after a divorce. This alimony is specifically designed to help divorced spouses do things like get a degree or obtain training for employment. Under Florida law, though, the spouse has to submit a plan that outlines the amount of time and money they’ll need to accomplish these goals.
- Permanent alimony – Permanent alimony, as the name suggests, is awarded when spouses lack the financial ability to meet their needs after the end of their marriage. In order for permanent alimony to be awarded, the marriage has to dissolve after either a moderate amount of time or exceptional circumstances if the marriage ends after a shorter period of time. When determining if permanent alimony will be awarded, the court will consider factors like:
- The standard of living that was established during the marriage
- The age and emotional condition of each spouse
- The financial resources each spouse has
- Transitional alimony – Also known as “bridge the gap” alimony, transitional alimony is given to a spouse that needs financial support for a limited period of time after the marriage ends. This alimony is designed to “bridge the gap” between the time it takes for the divorce to play out. An example of transitional alimony could be awarded while a spouse waits for the marital house to sell. Transitional alimony is capped at two years and once an award amount has been determined, it cannot be modified in any way.
- Durational alimony – This form of alimony may be awarded when other types are not sufficient to meet a spouse’s needs. The purpose of durational alimony, at least in Florida, is to provide the divorced spouse with support for only a certain “duration” of time following a marriage that lasted for only a short time. Durational alimony can also be granted after a marriage that lasted longer, but the divorced spouse isn’t in dire need of financial support.
The fact is, every divorce in Tampa is unique. This means that any type of alimony that is available depends on the circumstances of your particular divorce. No matter which type of alimony is available, there are factors that courts will consider when calculating the amount to award.
How is Alimony Calculated in Tampa?
When trying to determine if alimony should be awarded in Tampa, two things need to be proven:
- A spouse needs financial support
- The other spouse has the financial means to provide the support.
If these two elements are unable to be proven, then alimony will probably not be awarded. However, once these requirements are met, the process will move forward, with the court deciding how much alimony will be awarded to a spouse.
When determining alimony, courts will generally consider the following factors:
- The spouse’s standard of living during the marriage.
- The length of the marriage.
- Certain characteristics of each spouse, like age or physical condition.
- The financial resources of each spouse.
- Each spouse’s earning capacity.
- Contributions each spouse made to the marriage, financial or otherwise.
- Any other factors, like other finances available to each spouse, or debts.
Of all these factors, the length of the marriage is often the guiding principle for not only determining the type of alimony but the amount of alimony as well. In order to avoid disputes and assist decisions, Florida law outlines the following durations of marriage:
- Short term: 1-7 years
- Moderate term: 8-17 years
- Long term: over 18 years
With these guidelines, alimony decisions can become a little more in focus. However, there are other, more strategic elements involved in filing for a divorce in Tampa.
Does It Matter Who Filed For Divorce First in Alimony Decisions?
Strategically, filing for divorce first can give you some advantages in terms of the procedure involved. The main advantage of filing for divorce first is that it allows you to initiate and control the proceedings, especially early on. This can be important in cases where your spouse has more financial resources than you do, as filing can catch them off guard and not give them the opportunity to move and shift their finances in an effort to keep them from you.
Other benefits of filing first include:
- Decide the court proceedings, including the venue
- Time for preparation and strategizing for your case
- First to present your case to the court
- Officially ends the marriage
- Provides immediate relief
As it relates to alimony, the spouse that files for divorce first doesn’t factor into the overall decision on alimony. This is because the only guidelines for alimony are whether one spouse needs financial support and the other has the ability to give that support.
However, in most cases, the spouse that files for divorce first needs financial support that alimony can provide. Therefore, alimony is often a factor in the decision to ultimately file for divorce.
Consult With Experienced and Skilled Tampa Alimony Lawyers
Navigating a divorce can be extremely emotional and at times, unpleasant. This is especially true in divorces where alimony is a consideration. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, we can help make sure that you are provided with the exact right amount of support you need to land on your feet. Consulting with our team can also help ensure that any financial information your spouse is providing is accurate so that you can make an informed decision about what to do next.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce or already have, contact us today for a free consultation.