When older couples first got married, the custom was having one spouse working while one stayed home. It is also likely that one spouses career took the back seat while they worked on the others professional career, leaving one spouse with less job options and skills. Because of this, alimony at this stage in life can make a huge difference on both sides of the divorce. The one spouse receiving the alimony may not be able to make it on their own financially without alimony, while the spouse paying may not have any money left over for their own life after making the payments. Alimony is a court ordered transfer of money between a higher-earning spouse to a lower-earning spouse during separation, and possibly after the divorce is finalized.

This leaves a lot of room for negotiating a spousal support arrangement when the couple decides to divorce. Negotiating a spousal support arrangement is just one of the many complications that older individuals face when getting divorced. If “grey divorcees” cannot reach a consensus through Collaborative Law, the Florida court will make that determination on their behalf.

The court will consider the following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • Age disparity;
  • Marriage contributions;
  • Each spouse’s retirement age;
  • Retirement accounts;
  • The earning capacity of both spouses;
  • Medical issues;
  • Physical and emotional health; and
  • Shared investments if any.

It is more likely that the person paying alimony is late in their career. Due to this, their compensation is likely going to be far more complex than a younger adult, first starting out in their career. Things like bonuses, stock units and options, pension funds, or car allowances may come into play when determining alimony.

While some spouses may negotiate their own alimony payments, most couples will depend on the court system, a judge, to decide which type of alimony the spouse will receive, the duration of the payments, and most importantly, the amount of the alimony payments. In Florida, we have four different types of alimony: (1) bridge-the-gap alimony, (2) durational alimony, (3) rehabilitative alimony, and (4) permanent alimony.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony. The purpose of bridge-the-gap alimony is to assist a former spouse in transitioning from their married life to their new, single life. This type of alimony cannot be modified and cannot last for longer than two years. A spouse receiving this type of alimony may also receive other types of alimony that the Florida courts award. Bride-the-gap alimony is meant to aid a spouse with their short-term needs, such as, money to secure new housing or buy furniture.

Durational Alimony. Durational alimony provides a spouse with economic assistance for a set period of time but may not exceed the length of the marriage. If there is a substantial change in circumstances, the amount of the award may be modified. However, the duration of the payments may not.

Rehabilitative Alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is meant to help a former spouse establish the capacity to become self-sufficient. In order to receive an alimony award of this type, the seeking former spouse must provide the court with a “specific and defined rehabilitative plan.” The plan must involve the development of appropriate employment skills or credentials, such as returning to school. These kinds of awards can be modified only if there is non-compliance with the rehabilitation plan, a substantial change in circumstances, or a completion of the rehab plan.

Permanent Alimony. Permanent alimony is awarded in situations where a former spouse is incapable of supporting themselves for the rest of their life. The Court should award an alimony payment that allows the former spouse to maintain a similar standard of living that they enjoyed during the marriage in situations where no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable under the circumstances.

All the types of alimony may be awarded in the form of periodic payments of as one lump sum. If a spouse who is retired and has no regular wages was ordered to pay alimony, the payor spouse might consider a lump sum payment. The judge will make the decision as to which form of payments will be awarded. If “grey divorcees” share significant assets, they can choose to adjust their retirement funds to provide adequate support in place of alimony. These are just some of the many outcomes older couples may face when divorcing and negotiating spousal support.