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Spousal Support lawyers in Fort Lauderdale, FL

After some divorces, one spouse may end up being financially responsible for their former partner in some manner. This is done through the system of spousal support that is defined through Florida’s family law statutes. These kinds of payments are also referred to as alimony in many places as well. Once an order for spousal support is in place, this can become a serious financial commitment that will affect the spouse ordered to make the payments for some time depending on the duration of the payments. The purpose of this system is supposed to be to let a spouse who has made sacrifices for their marriage maintain a reasonable standard of living after a divorce and receive career training if necessary.

There are spousal support attorneys in Fort Lauderdale who can give a person going through a divorce more specific advice about whether they may owe support and the size of the payments. The Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A. has experience with these issues and related matters.

The length of the marriage

A crucial factor that determines whether spousal support is necessary is the length of the marriage. Florida has very specific periods of time that coincide with short or long-term marriages. Any marriage less than three years is considered short term. A marriage of three to seven years is considered a medium length marriage. Finally, any marriage that lasts at least seven years is a long-term marriage. For spousal support, it is most likely to be awarded after a long-term marriage only. It is fairly rare that a shorter term marriage would result in the need for support payments. A spousal support lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can advise anyone going through a divorce how the length of their specific marriage may be factored into the judge’s determination of payments.

What other factors determine whether spousal support is necessary?

A family law judge in Florida will only order spousal support payments if one spouse has some kind of actual documented need for financial assistance after their divorce. This is usually due to lacking job skills due to being married and raising children or contributing to their spouse’s education and career for several years instead of their own. If the spouse asking for support has their own job or career, it is usually not necessary for them to receive additional financial support unless there will be a large decrease in their standard of living. Marriages where both spouses had similar income or education levels will almost never result in an order for support. It is possible that other factors may come into play in some divorce cases, so a spousal support attorney in Fort Lauderdale can be consulted with specific concerns.

How is spousal support calculated?

Florida has specific rules for coming up with an alimony payment. All sources of income are always factored even if the spouses have multiple jobs, businesses, investments, or other ways that they receive money each month. The judge will look at things such as the income of the higher earning spouse, the income of the lower earning spouse, the length of the marriage, and the standard of living during the course of the marriage. There are estimates of the amount of a payment that can be found online using these factors, but legal advice is necessary to get a specific figure. The judge also has the discretion to deviate from these general principles when they feel it is necessary to do so. Deviations may occur if the couple has special circumstances or the judge feels that the higher earning spouse is voluntarily underemployed or earning too little income.

Types of spousal support in Florida

Florida law allows a few different kinds of support for a spouse that may be ordered depending on their particular circumstances. These are bridge the gap, rehabilitative, permanent, and durational payments. The judge will look at the condition of the spouse asking for the payments to decide which type of award is necessary. For example, a spouse that merely needs additional job skills and training may receive rehabilitative alimony for a predetermined time until they have a realistic chance of finding meaningful employment. Permanent alimony will only be ordered if there was a long-term marriage where the spouse does not have any realistic chance to become financially independent. Durational support can be ordered if it is clear that the spouse will only need the payments for a certain fixed period of time. Bridge the gap also has a similar time limitation for a person to get through their divorce and into a new job or other means of becoming independent. There is also the possibility that short term spousal support is ordered while a divorce is ongoing if it is necessary.

Modifying an order for spousal support

There are ways to change an order for spousal support that has already been put in place, but this must be done formally through the family courts and approved by a judge. The person subject to the order needs to keep making their prior payments until this process is complete, and they should get assistance from a spousal support attorney in Fort Lauderdale. As a general rule, there needs to be some kind of substantial change for the change in the order to be approved. Things like a job loss or change, large changes in income, sudden special needs for the child’s health or education, or other serious unforeseen circumstances will usually be necessary to convince the judge to make changes to the existing order. The person making the payments should be aware that certain conditions will terminate the support payments. This includes the death of the person receiving the payments, when they remarry, or if they have entered into a new relationship where they receive financial support.

Finding additional information about making or modifying payments

There are a number of different rules and regulations to keep in mind throughout the process of a divorce and order of spousal support. For these reasons it is imperative that anyone who has questions about these matters get legal advice from an experienced Fort Lauderdale spousal support lawyer. The Law Office of Verna Popo, P.A. is available to help.

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