The most divisive issues in many divorce proceedings are how to distribute property and whether either party is due to spousal maintenance. In some cases, spousal support may be appropriate, but the court must first establish specific factual findings before issuing an order requiring one spouse to provide financial support to the other; otherwise, the decision may be unfair. In a recent Florida opinion, a court discussed whether alimony was acceptable after the husband challenged an order providing the wife support. If you’ve decided to seek a divorce, it is smart to enlist the services of an experienced Florida divorce lawyer to fight for your rights.
The Factual Background
It is reported that the husband and wife had been married for over two decades when the wife filed for divorce in 2016. The husband worked as a neurologist for most of the marriage, but he had a heart attack four years after they married and received disability payments, so he cut back on his work hours. The wife was initially was a stay-at-home mom but went back to work as a physical therapist a few years before the marriage ended.
Allegedly, the husband was earning around $200,000 per year at the time of the divorce, while the wife was making around $85,000. The court issued an order awarding the wife alimony in the amount of $2,000 per month. The husband filed an appeal, claiming that the court had failed to make the requisite factual findings to sustain the order.
Florida’s Law on Spousal Support
A court deciding whether or not to award alimony must first make a specific factual finding as to whether either spouse requires alimony, pursuant to Florida law. Specifically, the court must determine if either party is financially capable of paying alimony. The trial court failed to make the findings necessary under Florida law, however.
Instead, the court simply ruled that the wife needed alimony to meet her current needs and that the husband had the financial means to make alimony payments based on his salary. The appellate court found that such conclusory remarks were insufficient under Florida law since they did not explain why the award was made. The appellate court further pointed out that there was no evidence that the trial court examined the relevant statutory elements while making the judgment or how the sum was calculated. The order was thus vacated by the appeal court, which remanded the case for additional proceedings.
Speak to a Capable Miami Attorney
When one spouse earns significantly more than the other, the higher-earning spouse may be required to pay spousal support if the couple divorces. If you are considering divorce or have been served with divorce papers, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. The capable Miami family law attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., have ample experience navigating the complexities of dissolution proceedings, and if you hire us, we will advocate assertively on your behalf. We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly represent parties in divorce proceedings in Miami. You can reach us via our form online or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.