By: Brusca Law
The use of the word “alimony” in divorce discussions can be a deal breaker. The lines of communication once open, might swiftly shut, and all possibilities of settlement might end with the mere mention of the “A” word. Mediators know about this, and attorneys do as well—that is why “support”, rather than “alimony”, is typically used in divorce proceedings, so that the lines of communication do not break down.
Most folks going through a divorce have friends that have shared war stories about their buddy that “got hosed with alimony he cannot afford to pay” and how the alimony award financially devastated that buddy. What you do not hear in stories like these, is that perhaps an expert was needed and was never obtained by either party. The parties just “left it up to the Judge” and a decision was made with the best information available. The type of expert you will need to retain during a divorce when alimony is at stake is a vocational experts and or a forensic accountants. These experts will provide you with an analysis of the amount of alimony needed and the ability of the other party to pay the alimony. These experts can cost you anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 in initial retainers.
Although these experts are expensive, they are necessary in most cases where permanent alimony awards are at stake. Florida defines long term marriages as those that have lasted longer than 17 years, and these long term marriages have real long term effects for couples that have acquired the majority of their assets and debts while married. Age-old stereotypes associated with alimony are very real and are generally presented in the courtroom. Florida lawmakers and industry leaders alike are attempting to level the playing field in alimony determinations but have not had much success in putting the issue to rest for Florida residents. Until that occurs, Floridians should know that when a case involves alimony, and there is disagreement as to the amount needed, the battle of the experts will surely ensue and you need to be ready with yours.
The alimony statute in Florida is Fla. Sta. 61.08, and it defines the type of alimony award you may be eligible for, and the burdens of proof. For long term marriages, alimony may be awarded and continue until the spouse receiving alimony remarries, either party dies, or the award can be modified based on a substantial change in circumstances. Alimony also works in conjunction with child support, and the amounts will go up or down depending on the amount of child support.
Speak with an experienced Family Law attorney to learn more about your alternatives to alimony before you finalize your case. Lump sum alimony, larger equitable distribution awards, and other creative ways may exist for you and your family to circumvent the dreaded alimony award. Call Brusca Law today for a free consultation at 407-501-6564 or fill out our contact form and we will contact you.