Nominal alimony can be a confusing concept in Florida divorces. Alimony of $1 per year or other similar amount is referred to as nominal alimony. An award of nominal alimony can be entered when the receiving spouse has demonstrated a need for alimony but the paying spouse does not have the current ability to pay. It preserves the right to ask for an increased amount when the paying spouse’s financial situation improves.
In a case from the Second District Court of Appeal earlier this year, the appeals court reversed the judge’s decision after a long-term marriage not to award nominal alimony. The husband had previously high earnings as a financial planner, but the economic downturn severely affected his earnings. At the time of the divorce he had no ability to pay alimony.
Because this was a long-term marriage, there was a presumption that permanent alimony was appropriate. In addition, the wife in the case had demonstrated her need for alimony. In this situation, it is typical for a court to award nominal alimony. This permits the receiving spouse to petition for an increase when the paying spouse regains the ability to pay.
Nominal alimony should have been awarded by the trial judge, according to the Second District. The court found that the wife was entitled to it, even though the husband did not have the current ability to pay. The door stays open for future changes should the parties’ financial situation change with an award of nominal alimony.
Also be aware that the Florida legislature made additional changes to the Florida alimony law that take effect on July 1, 2011. It is always important to stay current with the law changes when you represent yourself in a Florida divorce. My DIY Divorce Crash Course helps you stay up-to-date with changes in nominal alimony and all other Florida divorce topics.