How Alimony Is Determined In Florida

Celebrity comedian, Ron White, recently filed for a divorce in California from his wife, Margo Rey. The couple were married on October of 2013. Margo is now arguing that the couple had a common-law marriage in Texas since 2008. What is a common marriage and why is Margo claiming that they had a common-law marriage?

Only a handful of states allow common law marriages. Common law marriages exist in states such as Texas, where the couple hold themselves out to be husband and wife to the community, but have not technically been married. It appears that this couple was legally married in California in 2013. Essentially, they have been married for a period of approximately 5 years.

Margo’s claim that the couple had a common-law marriage in Texas since 2008, is an attempt to show that she has been married to Ron for a longer period of time. Why would she do this? Clearly, it is an effort to prove that she should be awarded more money in alimony due to the longer duration of the marriage.

Florida does not have common law marriages, unless a couple moves to Florida from a state that does. One of the first things that clients ask me is: “Do I have to pay alimony? If so, how much do I have to pay?” The answer to that question always is: it depends.

An alimony award in Florida is dependent on a need by the party, for alimony and whether the spouse can pay the alimony.

In determining whether to award alimony, courts will look at several factors, including:

  • Employment – Are both spouses working? If so, how much do they earn? If not, what employment could the non-working spouse reasonably expect to find after the divorce?
  • Length of Marriage – The longer the marriage, the greater likelihood that alimony will be awarded and the higher the amount of alimony awarded.
  • Education – The education of each spouse can typically be linked to their future earning potential, and therefore, a need (or lack of need) for alimony may exist.
  • Past Employment – If one of the spouses decided to stay home to care for the children, past employment may be reviewed to determine their earning potential.

Types of Alimony

If the judge decides that alimony will be awarded to one party, the next step is to determine which type of alimony is appropriate. The following options are available in Florida:

  • Permanent Alimony – This is set up to continue for the rest of the spouse’s life. It is quite rare that this would be awarded and is only used when one spouse will be unable to support themselves at any time in the future.
  • Durational Alimony – This is awarded for a set duration of time. For example, the end date could be set at the point where their youngest child reaches the age of 18.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony – This is awarded until the receiving spouse hits a specific milestone. If the spouse is going back to school to finish a degree, rehabilitative alimony may be given until their expected graduation date.
  • Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – This is one of the more common options, and is a short-term alimony arrangement to help the receiving spouse transition into their new life, alone. This type typically lasts no more than two years.

We can help!

If you find yourself in this circumstance where you are considering a divorce and you would like to seek legal help, please contact us right away. We will sit down with you, go over the details of your case, and help you to determine what the next steps should be. I urge you to make a bold move, one that you deserve, and call my firm now for a Free Consultation 305-908-8494.

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