Florida Court Discusses Permanent Alimony

In many marriages, one spouse is the primary breadwinner while the other largely takes care of the household. When such marriages end, then, the courts may find it appropriate to award the spouse with lesser means alimony. The courts will evaluate numerous factors in determining appropriate alimony, including the length of the marriage. While permanent alimony may be awarded in some instances, it is rarely appropriate in cases involving short-term marriages. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion in which an appellate court reversed a trial court order granting a party permanent alimony due to the fact the trial court misapplied the applicable standard. If you or your spouse intend to end your marriage, it is smart to consult a Florida divorce lawyer to evaluate how you can protect your financial health.

The History of the Case

It is reported that wife one and wife two were married for three years before divorcing. Prior to marrying, they lived together for twenty-four years. Four years before they decided to wed, wife two suffered health issues. Wife one verbally advised her that she could stop working and that she would provide for both of them financially. Thus, at the time of the divorce, wife two sought alimony. The trial court ultimately awarded wife two permanent alimony. Wife one appealed, arguing the court improperly considered the length of the couple’s relationship prior to the marriage in issuing the award.

Permanent Alimony Under Florida Law

An appellate court will uphold an alimony award if it is supported by competent evidence. Under Florida law, permanent alimony may only be awarded following a short-term marriage, which is one that lasts less than seven years, if the court issues written findings that exceptional circumstances are present. Further, if a court grants a party permanent alimony after a short-term marriage, the order must include a finding that no other form of alimony is reasonable and fair given the parties’ circumstances.

Finally, if a court finds that permanent alimony is the only suitable option, it must set forth adequate findings in the order explaining its decision. Generally, permanent alimony that is granted following a short-term marriage requires proof that the spouse requesting alimony is unable to support himself or herself due to a mental or physical disability. Palimony is not recognized under Florida law, and no rights arise out of cohabitation. Applying the aforementioned principles, the court found that the trial court’s award of permanent alimony was improper. Thus, it reversed the order and remanded for further proceedings.

Speak to a Trusted Miami Family Law Attorney

While alimony may be suitable in some cases, permanent alimony is rarely warranted. If you intend to seek a divorce or were served with legal papers instituting a divorce action, it is advisable to speak to an attorney to discuss whether you or your spouse may be owed alimony. The trusted Miami attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best outcome available under the facts of your case. We have an office in Aventura, and we frequently represent people in divorce cases in Miami. You can contact us through our form online or at 800-596-0579 to set up a meeting.