In 2010, durational alimony was added to Florida law. It is a new form of alimony that is limited in how long it is to be paid – it cannot be awarded for a period of time longer than the the parties were married. So for a couple married 10 years, the maximum durational alimony period is 10 years.
Durational alimony has a different purpose than permanent alimony.
“The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration.” § 61.08(7), Fla. Stat. (2010)
On the other hand, “Permanent periodic alimony is used to provide the needs and the necessities of life to a former spouse as they have been established during the marriage of the parties.” Rosecan v. Springer, 845 So.2d 927, 928 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003).
Durational Alimony for Moderate Term Marriages
Durational alimony is typically the type that is awarded in moderate term marriages. A fairly typical scenario is a couple in their late 30s to mid 40s who have been married 10-15 years. Many times the wife worked initially during the marriage and then quit to raise the children. Prior to durational alimony, the court had to choose between permanent alimony and bridge-the-gap alimony; there was no middle ground.
With durational alimony, as in all the other types of alimony, the judge has wide latitude in determining what to award. We can look at the Noursari family as a good illustration. The wife was 39, the husband 44 when they divorced. Mr. Nousari makes over $1.4M per year. Mrs. Nousari has needs of $10k per month. Mrs. Nousari wanted permanent alimony but received nine years of durational alimony. The appeals court said that’s okay.
Permanent Alimony in Moderate Term Marriages
By contrast, the Greens also had a moderate term marriage. Mrs. Green had not worked for ten years, but previously earned $80/hour as a photographer. She testified that could not work for $10 per hour. Oh, and she also took a cash advance of $30k just after the petition was filed, a debt assigned tot he husband in the final judgment. Mr. Green makes $51k and will be paying permanent alimony in this case.
So these longer moderate-term marriages can go either way in Florida at this point in time. Both of these cases were decided before a 2011 requirement that certain findings have to be made by the judge before permanent alimony can be awarded, and those findings must be supported by clear and convincing evidence.
Alimony rules change all the time in Florida. It is important to keep up with the latest information about how courts are deciding these cases. With the legislative session coming soon, there are already bills filed that drastically change both permanent alimony and durational alimony in the state of Florida. Stay tuned. It will be an interesting legislative session.