Before a Miami divorce court can determine whether alimony is warranted in a Florida divorce case, the court must set aside to each spouse his/her share of the marital estate and his/her separate assets and liabilities. After this, the court can determine the need of the spouse asking for the alimony and the ability of the other spouse to pay it since some assets may generate income that can cut down on a spouse's need for alimony.
In the appellate case Duke v. Duke, 211 So.3d 1078 (Fla. 5th DCA 2017), the court considered the appeal of a final judgment of divorce granting the wife permanent alimony. The main asset in the parties' marital estate was a retirement account valued at $1.2 million of which the wife was awarded half. In considering alimony, the court determined the wife only had a small amount in her checking account and had a vehicle that had a lien against it. Her gross income was approximately $1,500.00. Based on her gross income and the meager assets available to her, the trial court awarded the wife permanent alimony.
In reversing the trial court's award of alimony, the appellate court noted the trial court's failure to consider the income the wife would receive from her one-half share of the husband's retirement account. Because this asset would generate monthly income to her, it was error for the trial court to disregard this income when determining the monthly alimony amount. Based on the wife's stated amount needed to meet her living expenses each month, it was possible for the trial court to find she did not have a need for alimony if the income from her employment and the retirement account generated that amount.
The appellate court further reversed the trial court's decision to require the husband to maintain a life insurance policy to secure his alimony obligation, holding "When a trial court requires a party to maintain life insurance as part of a dissolution order, it must make specific evidentiary findings regarding the availability and cost of insurance, the obligor's ability to pay, and the special circumstances that warrant the requirement for security of the obligation."
Review of your case by a Miami divorce attorney can help you understand what is at stake in your Florida divorce case. A consultation can put you on the path toward forming the best defense/offense in your case.