Durational vs. Permanent Alimony: Which is Right for You?

Alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, is one of the most significant and recognizable aspects of divorce. While many people understand that it refers to payments one former spouse makes to the other, few realize that there are actually different types of alimony in Florida that may be awarded while a divorce is pending, after a divorce, and for various reasons.

The types of alimony in Florida include:

  • Durational alimony – Spousal support awarded post-divorce in relation to the length of time spouses were married.
  • Permanent alimony – Support payments made to a spouse who is unable to provide for themselves.
  • Rehabilitative alimony – Support intended to provide a former spouse with the means to improve their employability.
  • Bridge-the-gap alimony – Support awarded on a short-term basis after a divorce is finalized
  • Temporary alimony – Spousal support awarded to one partner during divorce and prior to its finalization.

The type of alimony awarded in your case, or the combination of different forms of spousal support awarded (i.e. during and after divorce) depends on the individual facts of your case and the specific situations and needs of the spouses involved. For the purposes of this blog, we will focus on two of the most common forms of post-divorce alimony: durational alimony and permanent alimony.

Permanent or Durational Alimony?

Permanent Alimony – Permanent alimony, as the name implies, is spousal support that is not subject to any specific amount of time and, generally, is terminated upon death or the remarriage of the recipient spouse. Permanent alimony is considered appropriate in divorce cases where one spouse lacks the ability to support themselves. This is common in long-term marriages where one spouse did not work, lacks educational and work experience, and would be generally unable to maintain the same lifestyle they had during the marriage on their own.

In most cases, permanent alimony is awarded in such cases where marriages lasted 17 years or longer. Although permanent alimony awards for medium or shorter length marriages are not common, they can be sought with the assistance of experienced lawyers who can prove why such an award would be appropriate by clear and convincing evidence. In marriages of short duration, such awards are typically only awarded in exceptional circumstances.

Durational Alimony – Durational alimony is relatively new in Florida, and is intended to serve as the most appropriate form of spousal support when permanent alimony is deemed inappropriate, as it is awarded only for a set period of time. Pursuing durational alimony that fits your needs will depend on a number of circumstances, including:

  • The length of a marriage (generally, under 17 years)
  • Each spouse’s financial resources, age, and physical and emotional health
  • Each spouse’s education and earning potential
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage

Personalized Representation from Clearwater Divorce Lawyers

Seeking the most appropriate form of alimony for you is a matter that requires a thorough evaluation of your individual circumstances, as well as the support of experienced attorneys who can advocate on your behalf and protect your rights and interests when seeking resolutions. It should be noted that experienced attorneys, in addition to fighting on your behalf when disputes arise, can help facilitate negotiations and compromise using creative solutions or settlement options when it comes to alimony. This may include lump-sum payments, offsetting the value of alimony by awarding another spouse certain property (i.e. the family home), and other unique arrangements.

Our Clearwater divorce and family law attorneys at Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. help clients navigate all aspects of the divorce process – from alimony during and post-divorce to matters involving property division, child custody, and more. Contact us to speak with a member of our team