Nothing can be more polarizing when it comes to divorce than the topic of alimony or spousal support. To shed some light on spousal support, I sat down for a conversation with Maritza Estevez-Pazos, Esq., a member of The Big Kaboom’s Divorce Care team.
DM. What are the general guidelines or factors used to calculate spousal support?
EZTEVEZ-PAZOS. At the present time, there are no spousal support guidelines in Florida, but Florida Statute Section 61.08 contains a series of factors to be considered by the Court when awarding spousal support. The factors include but are not limited to: 1) the standard of living during the marriage; 2) the duration of the marriage; 3) the age, physical and emotional condition and earning capacity of; 4) the financial resources of the parties (including marital and non-marital assets); 5) the contribution of each party to the marriage; and 7) the responsibilities that each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common. The Court has great discretion in formulating an award of alimony when considering these factors and every case is different.
DM. How is spousal support duration impacted by the length of the marriage?
EZTEVEZ-PAZOS. The length of the marriage is a very important factor to be considered by the Court in awarding certain types of alimony. Under the current alimony statute, marriages are defined as: 1) short-term: less than 7 years; 2) moderate-term: greater than 7 and less than 17 years; 3) long-term: greater than 17 years. There are various types of alimony, for example, bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony and permanent alimony. The Court can award one type of alimony or a combination depending on the factors and the length of the marriage. For example, durational alimony consists of spousal support for a set period of time and may be awarded in a marriage of short or moderate duration. On the other hand, permanent alimony may be awarded in a marriage of long duration.
DM. Is there a relationship between marital assets and the spousal support?
EZTEVEZ-PAZOS. Absolutely. When awarding spousal support, the Courts consider the financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each party and all sources of income available to either party. In other words, if the party that is seeking alimony is keeping an asset that produces income, the court can consider that income when determining what the requesting party’s need is for alimony.
DM. With so many online alimony calculators, there must be “a rule of thumb” used to calculate spousal support. What is it?
EZTEVEZ-PAZOS. The first rule of thumb use by the Court is whether one party has a need for alimony and the other party has the ability to pay. You may have a case where the need exists but the ability to pay is just not there. There are other cases where the ability to pay is not the issue, but the main focus of the case is on the real need of the party requesting the alimony. Another important rule of thumb is that alimony is not designed to equalize the income between the parties; therefore, a 50/50 split of the net income of both parties is not what is customary. In many cases, there will be a range between a 65/35 split a 60/40 split or even a 70/30 split. It all depends on the case and it is a very fact intensive, case-by-case analysis.
About Carlos Blanco
Carlos founded The Big Kaboom www.thebigkaboom.com, which combines people, technology and social elements, in order to support clients throughout their divorce process. He may be contacted by calling 305-908-1171 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.