Upkeep, when does it finish? | Authorized issues

Most people know that alimony is paid by one ex-spouse to another. Most are unaware that Florida lawmakers codified many different types of alimony in Section 61.08 of the Florida Bylaws. Different types of maintenance should end at different times, with the caveat that maintenance payments can generally be changed by a court due to changed circumstances. This change may include a change in the cancellation date.

All maintenance payments depend in large part on the neediness of one spouse and the solvency of the other. The court takes into account a long list of factors established by law, including the standard of living during marriage, the age and physical condition of each party, the financial resources and employability of each party, and each party’s contributions to the marriage.

The length of a marriage is the critical factor affecting the length of a maintenance claim. A long-term marriage is defined as a marriage of 17 years or more. There is a rebuttable presumption that if a permanent marriage is dissolved, permanent maintenance is appropriate. Permanent maintenance must be paid until the recipient remarries, one of the parties dies or changed circumstances result in a judicial dismissal.

One factor that can speak against permanent alimony, even in the case of a long-term marriage, is the possibility of the recipient receiving employment or other income through education or other means. The same factor is often important in even shorter marriages. In these cases, the court can award permanent alimony if permanent alimony is inappropriate.

Permanent maintenance is continued for a certain period of time if the court considers permanent maintenance to be inappropriate but there is a need for maintenance. If the marriage lasts less than 17 years, permanent support will be the focus of all support arguments. The amount of permanent maintenance can be changed due to changed circumstances, but the duration can only be changed due to exceptional circumstances. The maintenance may not exceed the duration of the marriage. It ends prematurely if one of the parties dies or the recipient remarries.

The law also gives courts the power to order bridging or rehabilitation maintenance. Although these two types of maintenance are similar, the granting of each is based on different findings by the court.

The bridging maintenance supports the recipient in the transition from spouse to single parent and may not exceed two years. It is appropriate for the recipient to have skills that they have not used in the workplace for some time and that will take some time to return to their previous professional career. The recipient needs little to no training, but has not been fully employed recently. The bridging maintenance ends at the end of the term or earlier if one of the parties dies or the recipient remarries.

Rehabilitation alimony is similar to bridge-the-gap, except that it is designed to prepare the recipient for self-sufficiency through exercise. It must be based on an education or training plan for a specific period of time. It ends on its set completion date or earlier if the rehabilitation plan is completed or not followed. It doesn’t necessarily end when the recipient remarries. The duration of rehabilitation maintenance can be extended or converted into permanent maintenance if circumstances warrant.

Maintenance can be ordered in regular payments or as a lump sum. Courts can claim flat-rate maintenance as part of the balancing asset allocation or as support. In both cases, the lump sum is final. It is immutable and does not change when one party dies or the recipient remarries. The maintenance allowance can be cash or property.

The flat-rate alimony does not have to be paid all at once. The court can order payment in installments, but this remains unchanged. If the court decides to award a lump sum, it must determine that other types of alimony are unavailable or inadequate. This means that the lump sum is limited to special circumstances.

Maintenance payments with recurring payments can usually be changed due to significant changes in circumstances. For example, if the recipient inherits a fortune or gets a really well paying job, the recipient’s needs can be reduced or eliminated. The legislature felt it was important to specifically address a change that may not be so clear-cut. Section 61.14 of the Florida Bylaws states that the court may reduce or remove alimony if the court determines that there was a supportive relationship between the recipient and a person with whom the recipient lived after the divorce.

The legislature does not want a dependent to continue to receive maintenance that would end with the marriage if this termination is avoided by the art of living together and not marrying. The legislature treats this in a similar way to remarriage, but automatically ends the maintenance. It can reduce or end the maintenance if the recipient’s maintenance needs are reduced or eliminated.

The person who pays the alimony bears the burden of proving the existence of a supportive relationship, and the law contains a list of factors to consider. These factors include:

1. The extent to which the recipient and the other person pretended to be married;

2. Length of living together in the same apartment;

3. Assistance the recipient receives from the other person;

4th The extent of valuable services that the recipient or another person renders for one another;

5. Whether the recipient and another person have worked together to increase the value of an asset or property they acquired together;

6th Proof of an express or implied agreement to provide support;

7th Whether the recipient and the other person have shown mutual support between the children.

Florida law provides a basis for early renewal, modification, or termination of maintenance. This means that the maintenance cannot end as originally planned. It also means that good legal advice is essential for any termination issue. Maintenance ends when it ends, but when it ends can only be determined with certainty in retrospect.

William G. Morris is the director of William G. Morris, PA. William G. Morris has represented clients in Collier County for over 30 years. His practice includes litigation and divorce, business law, estate planning, clubs and real estate. The information in this column is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice.

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