Memorandum: Alimony

Alimony is used to help one spouse transition into single life.  It is not meant to be punitive, although it certainly feels that way to the payor spouse. There are a few different types of alimony and it all depends on the length of the marriage and some other factors. Make no mistake the length of the marriage is the most important factor when determining alimony. Florida Statutes have defined a marriage length as the following:

  • Seven years and below is a short term marriage
  • Seven years to seventeen years is a medium marriage
  • Anything above seventeen years is a long term marriage

There is a presumption of permanent alimony in a long term marriage. You are not safe, however, if you are under the 17-year mark. Judges have the discretion to order permanent alimony if you are close to that 17-year mark. A judge can even order permanent alimony on a short term marriage. There is a case directly on point, where a judge awarded a spouse permanent alimony on a 2-year marriage but this is extremely rare. The circumstances of that case were that the husband abused his wife to the point of a disability and she could not work. It was absolutely the husband's fault and so he had to pay permanent alimony.  

Alimony is based on need and ability to pay. If one spouse needs the alimony and the other spouse has the ability to pay, then alimony will be awarded. The length and the amount of alimony are based on factors such as:

  • the length of the marriage
  • the way the parties lived during the marriage
  • any other resources available to the parties

Adultery is not a factor. Many people believe that if their spouse gets caught cheating that alimony will be reduced.  This is not true.  The only way adultery comes into play is if a spouse paid money for their adulterous affair and purchased gifts and things of that nature. At least half of the money spent on an adulterous affair would have to be paid back to the other spouse. For example, if a husband purchased his mistress a $10,000 diamond ring, the wife will be owed $5,000 from the husband. This is a No Fault State and adultery simply does not come into play.

The only time adultery could come into play in a divorce action is when children are involved and if the spouse who is cheating is flaunting the relationship in front of the children. This certainly does not have anything to do with alimony. If a person receiving alimony starts to live with their significant other, there are ways to end an alimony obligation because of this. It is not automatic. The receiving spouse must have been living with that significant other for over a year and there has to show some type of mutual support. These cases are not as easy as it seems, because, as you can imagine, people lie about the nature of their relationship.  Through the discovery process, it should be able to be determined if the parties are actually living together in a romantic relationship and supporting each other through economic means or otherwise. 

Kenny Leigh and Associates is a law firm that exclusively represents men in the area of family law. 

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