In some marriages, one spouse relies on the other for financial support. As such, if a couple with disparate income decides to divorce, the lesser earning spouse may seek alimony. The courts must assess multiple factors in determining whether alimony is appropriate, and if they fail to conduct a thorough evaluation, their rulings may be overturned. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida case, in which the appellate court vacated the trial court’s order on the grounds the trial court failed to determine if the wife was entitled to alimony. If you or your spouse intend to seek a divorce, it is advisable to confer with a Florida divorce attorney to assess how the dissolution of your marriage may impact you financially.
The Facts of the Case
Reportedly, the husband and the wife were married in 1996. In 2018, the wife filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage, in which she sought rehabilitative alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, and permanent alimony due to the length of the marriage. She asked the court to require the husband to maintain a life insurance policy naming her as a beneficiary as well.
It is alleged that the court found that the husband’s total monthly expenses were close to $7,000, while the wife’s total expenses were slightly less than $3,000. Further, the court noted that the wife had amassed some savings while the husband had none. Thus, the court found that the husband lacked the ability to pay alimony and denied the wife’s request. It also declined to require the husband to maintain life insurance. The wife appealed.
Determining Whether Alimony is Appropriate
Under Florida Statute Section 61.08(1), in all divorce actions, the courts must include findings of fact relative to the factors enumerated in the provisions relating to an award or denial of alimony. In other words, the court in the subject case was required to make a specific factual determination as to whether the wife actually needed maintenance or alimony, regardless of whether it determined the husband lacked the means to pay alimony or maintenance.
Further, the appellate court noted that if one spouse is entitled to permanent alimony, but the other spouse lacks the means to pay, trial courts should award periodic permanent alimony. As the trial court in the subject case failed to conduct the required analysis, the appellate court found that its ruling was improper and reversed it and remanded it for further proceedings.
Meet with an Experienced Miami Family Law Attorney
Divorce often has a significant economic impact on the parties ending their marriage. In many cases, one spouse will lack the income to provide for his or her needs after the divorce is final and will be entitled to alimony. If you or your spouse want to end your marriage, it is smart to speak to an attorney about whether the court may grant either of you alimony. The experienced Miami attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., can advise you of your rights and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. Our office is located in Aventura, and we regularly represent people in divorce actions in Miami. You can reach us via our form online or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.