When going through a divorce, if alimony is a factor, a huge level of uncertainty and financial stress is added to the equation. While the issue of calculating the alimony award amount you or your partner may receive is in the hands of the courts, most people are concerned with the factors that are taken into consideration in determining the monthly spousal support payment.
There are several factors taken into consideration when courts determine the amount and type of spousal support. Here are some of the most common factors.
- Standard of living established during the marriage.
When it comes to awarding alimony, courts have a goal of maintaining the lifestyle obtained by the parties during the marriage. To do this, courts examine the parties’ financials and assets like property and possessions. What is also in this equation is the couples spending habits, vacationing habits, and recreational lifestyle. Basically, the higher or more expensive the lifestyle of the couple, the higher the alimony award will be.
- Duration of the marriage.
The longer the couple has been married, the larger the amount of spousal support the court will award. In Florida, marriages are separated into three categories: long term marriage, moderate term marriage, and short-term marriage. Long term marriage is considered to be a marriage longer than 17 years, moderate term marriage is a marriage longer than 7 years but less than 17, and a short-term marriage is less than 7 years. Permanent alimony is typically only awarded in situations that qualify as a long-term marriage.
- The age, physical, and emotional condition of each party.
The mental and physical condition of each party along with their age is taken into consideration when the courts are determining whether and/or how much alimony will be awarded. The likelihood and amount of alimony is increased where a party is older, disables, or suffering from health problems. Whereas someone young and healthy would be less likely to be awarded alimony.
- The financial resources of each party.
In Florida, alimony is based on one spouse’s need and the other’s ability to pay. When examining the financial resources of each party to a divorce, nonmarital and marital assets are reviewed to assist the court in deciding whether one spouse has the ability to pay or not and whether the other has a need for alimony.
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties.
A spouse’s earning capacity includes factors such as education, professional experience, skills, and their employability. In other words, this consideration involves determining whether the spouse has the ability to work and if so, at what level.
- The contribution of each party to the marriage.
Because there are other contributions to a marriage other than financial, the court recognizes actions such as homemaking, child rearing, and efforts one may give toward the other spouse’s career building. Some spouses may dedicate significant effort towards the improvement of the family and marriage rather than financial contributions by being a homemaker staying home to maintain the household and take care of the family while the other is working.
- Future parenting responsibilities.
In Florida, the court presumes parenting rights will be mutual unless there is a potential of harm for the child. All of these factors play a role in determining alimony. Major decisions involving time-sharing, educational needs, and medical and health needs are all factored into determining payment.
- Tax implications.
Effective January 1, 2019, alimony will no longer be tax deductible to the person paying the alimony and taxable as income to the recipient. The bill is not retroactive and will not impact current alimony agreements
- All sources of income available to the parties.
All sources of income that may be available to the parties of a divorce is factored courts make an alimony determination, including investments. For example, if one spouse has an account proven throughout time to earn them a 10% return, the historic returns could be used as additional income and be factored into figuring the monthly spousal support payment.
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
When making their alimony determinations as to amount and length of time, courts may not only look at the 9 previously mentioned factors, but also, may look at any other factor that may be necessary to make the award equitable between the parties. Like all of the other factors, this factor may differ from case to case.
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