Alimony plays a crucial role in many Florida divorces in that it helps lesser-earning parties maintain financial stability after their marriage ends. Merely because a party requests alimony does not mean that it should be granted, however, and even if a court finds that alimony is appropriate, it must comply with statutory guidelines when issuing a support award. In a recent Florida opinion, the court discussed the analysis a court must conduct before issuing an alimony award in a matter in which it ultimately vacated the lower court’s order. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is important to understand how ending your marriage may impact you financially, and you should speak to a Miami divorce attorney.
History of the Case
It is alleged that the parties divorced. In the final judgment of dissolution of marriage, the trial court ordered the husband to pay alimony to the wife. The husband appealed, arguing that the trial court made numerous errors during the process of determining alimony.
Findings Required Prior to Awarding Alimony
The primary issues on appeal were whether the trial court erred in failing to set forth specific findings relating to the parties’ net incomes and in relying on gross income instead of net income for alimony calculations.
With regard to the first issue, the court noted that the Florida Statutes require a court to make specific factual findings about the parties’ net incomes when making alimony determinations. The court agreed with the husband that the trial court failed to make such findings in its final judgment, which was a substantial error.
Further, the failure to make findings about the parties’ net income prevented the court from making determinations regarding the husband’s ability to pay and the wife’s need for alimony, which must be based on their net income. Instead, the trial court relied on the husband’s gross income to determine an alimony award, which constituted an error.
Finally, the court held that the alimony award ran afoul of the Florida Statutes, which prohibit a payor from being left with significantly less net income than the recipient without documented exceptional circumstances. The court noted that the absence of precise findings pertaining to the parties’ net incomes prevented it from a determination on whether the alimony award contravened the statutory framework. As such, the court reversed the final judgment of dissolution and remanded the matter for further proceedings.
Confer with a Dedicated Miami Attorney
While some parties need alimony to maintain their standard of living after they divorce, it is not warranted in every case. If you want to learn more about whether you or your estranged spouse would be entitled to alimony if you divorce, it is smart to confer with an attorney. The dedicated Miami family law lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can evaluate your circumstances and develop a strategy that aims to help you seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.