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How do I know if I am entitled to alimony?

In our last post, we discussed how Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would prompt some major changes with alimony law in the state. Today, we wanted to take a step back and answer a question that many of our clients have at the beginning of their divorce, which is: Am I entitled to alimony?

Alimony is not automatic in any divorce case. That means the person who wants alimony -- or spousal support payments after the divorce -- has to ask for it during the divorce process. This spouse typically asks for alimony right away in the divorce petition, and then the parties negotiate over how much alimony should be paid, if any. 

If the parties cannot agree by themselves as to whether alimony should be ordered or how much alimony should be ordered, the judge presiding over the case will make the decision. Typically, alimony is ordered when one spouse earns significantly more than the other spouse.

There are also many forms of alimony, including monthly alimony payments that are temporary in nature as well as lump-sum alimony payments that only occur once. Currently, there is also a possibility of permanent alimony, though the recent bill that has been proposed would get rid of it if it passes (but not retroactively).

The judge considers many factors when deciding what type of alimony, if any, should be awarded, including the job history, health, earning potential, educational background and financial situation of both parties.

Alimony is not awarded based on fault, so it is not used as a punishment. The purpose is for both parties to keep the standard of living that they were accustomed to during the marriage, though this isn’t always possible.

An experienced family law attorney can help you determine whether you may be entitled to alimony after your divorce. 

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