Court Explains Alimony Determinations Under Florida Law

Florida law permits the courts to award parties alimony in divorce actions. The duration of alimony granted depends on numerous factors. The amount granted, generally, depends on the need of the party seeking alimony and the ability of the person from whom alimony is sought to pay. As discussed in a recent Florida opinion, this requires an analysis of the parties’ net, not gross income.  If you have questions about how a divorce may impact you financially, including whether you may be eligible for alimony, it is smart to talk to a skilled Miami divorce attorney.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife were married and had one minor child. In 2019, the wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. In response, the husband filed a counterpetition. The parties entered into a partial mediated marital settlement agreement in February 2022. The agreement resolved most issues but did not dictate rights or obligations with regard to alimony, child support, or attorney’s fees. The trial court subsequently ratified the agreement.

It is alleged that the court later held a final hearing to address the remaining issues. Following the hearing, it entered an amended final judgment of dissolution in which it awarded the wife durational alimony for five years. The wife appealed.

Alimony Determinations Under Florida Law

On appeal, the wife argued that the trial court erred by calculating the alimony award based on gross income rather than net income. The court ultimately agreed and remanded the matter for further proceedings.

The court explained that alimony awards must be based on the income available to the party, i.e., their net monthly income, as established by legal precedent. In the subject case, however, the amended final judgment clearly indicated that the trial court used the parties’ gross incomes to determine their need and ability to pay alimony.

The husband argued that the absence of a complete transcript of the final hearing made it unclear whether the trial court considered net income. Despite this argument, the court found the error evident on the face of the record, as the judgment explicitly states the use of gross income for the alimony calculation. As such, the court ordered a reversal and remand for the trial court to provide detailed factual findings to support its determination of need and ability to pay.

Meet with a Seasoned Miami Attorney

When determining whether to grant a party durational alimony, the Florida courts consider multiple factors, including the lifestyle the parties enjoyed while married, the income and earning potential of the parties, and whether there is a need for support and an ability to pay. If you are contemplating ending your marriage, it is important to understand your rights, and you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Miami divorce lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can assess your case and help you take the measures necessary to protect your interests. You can reach us at 800-596-0579 or use the form online to arrange a meeting.

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