If you and your spouse are married for only a relatively short amount of time, you probably don’t expect to owe your spouse permanent alimony. However, permanent alimony is available to some spouses in Florida, even in cases where theirs was a short-term marriage. If your short-term spouse is seeking permanent alimony from you, make sure you have the skilled legal advocacy you need from an experienced South Florida family law attorney to defeat this claim.
When your short-term spouse seeks permanent alimony from you, the law starts out on your side. If your marriage lasts seven years or less, Florida law considers that to be a “short-term” marriage and creates a presumption that permanent alimony is not proper. A “presumption” means that, at the outset of the case, before the court hears any evidence or arguments, it presumes that your spouse should not receive permanent alimony.
A spouse can overcome that presumption and get permanent alimony in a short-term marriage situation, but to do so requires a special evidentiary showing, so you need to be prepared to present the arguments and proof necessary to demonstrate that the presumption has not been overcome, as one Jacksonville-area husband did in his recent alimony case.
The husband, J.O., was married to S.O. for less than five years. After the husband filed for divorce, the wife made a request for permanent alimony on the basis that she became disabled during the marriage.
What It Takes to Overcome the Presumption about Alimony
That kind of argument can potentially succeed as Florida law says that, to overcome the presumption, the spouse seeking alimony must prove to the court that she lacks the ability to support herself and her inability is the result of something that took place during the marriage.
In this couple’s case, the wife presented proof that she had experienced several strokes, including some major ones, during the marriage. She had also undergone brain surgery during the marriage. Based on these things, she asserted that she was disabled, couldn’t work, and was entitled to permanent alimony.
The husband, on the other hand, presented proof that the wife, even after suffering her strokes, went on cruises and trips and went to music concerts with friends. He also presented the wife’s Facebook video from 2019, which depicted her dancing at a party. This evidence was crucial in diminishing the wife’s credibility concerning the state of her disability.
The trial court did not side with the wife and instead awarded bridge-the-gap alimony for nine months.
That ruling survived an appeal by the wife. The appeals court’s ruling stated that the trial judge had enough evidence to warrant finding that the wife and her witnesses were not sufficiently credible to prove that the wife was incapable of working. The appeals court pointed to trial evidence showing that the wife had held various jobs, even after she suffered her strokes which, along with the husband’s other proof about the wife’s state of disability (or lack thereof), was enough to support the trial judge’s decision that the presumption had not been overcome.
The law contains many nuances, including presumptions. Even if a presumption gives you an advantage at the outset of your case, don’t fall into the trap of thinking success will be automatic. Instead, get the skilled legal representation you need to take on your case aggressively. Rely on the knowledgeable South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. to provide you with the smart, determined and powerful advocacy you need to succeed. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation today.