The Collaborative Divorce Center

How Does Alimony Work?

I am Pam Masters and I am a collaborative family lawyer, which is to say that I am a settlement specialist and I guide couples and families on the difficult journey of divorce without court involvement. I do this is ways that protects children, preserves financial assets and creates healthy co-parenting relationships. So how does alimony work?

I hear so many common misconceptions about alimony. Among them:

There is a formula

Incomes will be equalized

That who is at “fault” for the divorce—which usually means who had an affair, or has a drug or drinking or gambling problem,  affects whether or not alimony is awarded

In Florida, there is no formula. There is a national organization that promotes a formula but this has not been adopted in Florida.

In Florida, support is based on need and ability to pay

Both need and ability to pay are figured out by looking at what we call a financial affidavit. This is a form –its really just a giant detailed budget—that every divorcing couple must sign under oath and file with the court.   If one spouse has a deficit and the other a surplus and a support award would otherwise be appropriate, then the court may award support.

What do I mean by a support award would otherwise be appropriate?

So many factors. Some are listed in the law. They are:

(2)  In determining a proper award of alimony or maintenance, the court shall consider all relevant economic factors, including but not limited to:

(a)  The standard of living established during the marriage.

(b)  The duration of the marriage.

(c)  The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.

(d)  The financial resources of each party, the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.

(e)  When applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.

(f)  The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.

(g)  All sources of income available to either party.

The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Statute also gives guidance on length of alimony

Short term, mid term and long term marriages

Support is an awful discussion for trial or in court

 So, if you are in a traditional litigated divorce, here’s what happens

IF you are the one seeking alimony, your every expenditure is questioned and analyze along with whether you are working to full capacity and earning potential.

If you are the potential payor the same thing happens to try and get your expenses down so that you have more income to pay support!

It can be a humiliating exercise in front of total strangers that leaves one feeling like they have to justify their life and worth!!

In a collaborative divorce, the support conversation is totally different. The focus is on both partners being ok financially and the conversation is not limited to monthly expenses but can include considerations of things like future income, retirement, saving and college expenses—none of which are relevant in court I am happy to speak with you personally if you have questions about alimony or any other aspect of divorce, collaborative divorce, divorce coaching or mediation.