Comedic takes on family law disputes, like the country song called “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)”, are common in popular culture. That song, which teaches that “alimony” rhymes with “baloney,” is one of many where one party believes that the outcome was grossly one-sided and unfair. Here in Florida, there are certain statutory safeguards to help ensure that the outcomes the legal system produces in real life are not ones where the supported spouse exits the marriage “living large” while the supporting spouse is destitute. When it comes to ensuring your financial security in divorce litigation, make sure you have representation from an experienced South Florida family law attorney to provide you the protection you deserve.
There are several rules that Florida law imposes on awards of alimony. If an award violates any one or more of these, then that error may allow you to get the ruling overturned. One of those rules, contained in Section 61.08(9) of the Florida Statutes, says that an “award of alimony may not leave the payor with significantly less net income than the net income of the recipient” except in cases of “exceptional circumstances.” That rule played a key role in one recent divorce case from Palm Beach County.
Each of the spouses had their own forensic accountant and each had markedly different views on the family road maintenance business. The wife’s accountant told the court that the husband earned more than $15,200 per month and the wife had a monthly need of more than $9,500.
The wife’s accountant proved to be the more persuasive of the two experts, and the trial court ordered the husband to pay $8,000 per month. The judge also ordered the husband to pay the wife’s medical and dental expenses and to purchase a life insurance policy to secure the alimony award.
In this case, the math simply didn’t “add up” under the requirements of Section 61.08(9). Assuming that the wife’s accountant’s testimony was accurate, the husband only made about $15,000 per month. Under the alimony order, he was required to pay the following each month: $8,000 to the wife directly, the cost of her monthly medical and dental insurance premiums and the cost of the premium for the life insurance policy the court ordered him to maintain.
This would have meant that the husband would have a net monthly income of less than $7,000 (and probably less than $6,000 depending on the total insurance costs.) The wife would have a monthly income of at least $8,000… plus whatever other income she was already making. This, according to the appeals court, was a clear example where the supporting spouse exited with “significantly less net income than the net income of the” recipient.
Supporting Adult Children Absent Special Circumstances
This alimony order violated the law in another way, as well. The trial judge, in setting the alimony amount, stated that the alimony needed to be large enough to provide for a “residence large enough for one or more of her adult children to reside with her.”
An alimony award like this amounted to forcing the husband to pay for the housing of adult children whom he had no legal obligation to support in any way. Absent special circumstances, which had not been proven in this case, a supporting spouse cannot be ordered to do this.
Whether you are the spouse seeking alimony or the spouse on the other side of an alimony request, a skilled divorce lawyer can help you get an outcome that is fair to you and not leave you with “the shaft.” The knowledgeable South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. are here to help. Our attorneys have been assisting Florida spouses for many years in dealing with alimony, child support, and equitable distribution issues. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation today.