Under Florida law, alimony is designed to help support the spouse with lower or no income in the case of divorce until he or she can be self-supporting. People who expect to receive alimony often think that the settlement should be much higher than what the court decides is fair. And it’s difficult to predict what the judge will decide.
Younger judges are entering the court system and are less inclined to award the high dollars that the older traditional judges did. Now that women are so much more entrenched in the workforce, the system tends to consider them as able to earn income, even if they have been stay-at-home moms for many years.
The purpose of alimony is not to evenly distribute income but to bridge the gap for the lower earning spouse. When a married couple divorces, the expenses increase and may even double. The higher earning spouse may not be able to pay the higher expenses. And what if the higher earning spouse loses his job or retires? Everyone has to be willing to make adjustments. And in the case of a job loss or retirement, the court will make the adjustments for you.
We advise non-earning spouses expecting alimony, typically women, to get some sort of job, even if it’s only $18K per year. Otherwise, the spouse may be compelled to meet with a vocational evaluator who will determine what the spouse “could make” based upon his/her education, training and/or experience instead of what they are actually making, which may be nothing. In other words, the court may determine that the non-earning spouse could make substantially more money than what a low paying job would pay and, therefore, may award less alimony than what is thought to be needed.
Many factors play into the amount of alimony that is awarded… the length of the marriage, lifestyle, financial resources available to both spouses and annual income. We see so many cases where a spouse has very unrealistic expectations about alimony. At Halickman and Farley, we can help you assess all the factors and determine what you can expect to be a reasonable alimony settlement. We’re here to help. Call us at 561-932-1988.