Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

What is nominal alimony in Florida and when is it appropriate to award it? This issue arose in the case Shaw v. Shaw, 2D18-331 (Fla. 2d DCA May 31, 2019) in which the former wife, a veterinarian, appealed the trial court’s decision to deny her permanent nominal alimony in her Florida divorce.

The evidence indicated that although the former wife previously worked as a veterinarian, she only worked part-time during the marriage and was the primary caretaker for the parties’ children. Despite this and the former wife’s unemployment by the time of trial, the trial court awarded the former wife bridge-the-gap and durational alimony, holding the former wife was likely to earn approximately half of the salary earned by the former husband.

The former wife appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in failing to award nominal permanent alimony. Relying partly on the fact that the parties were involved in a long-term marriage of 28 years, the appellate court agreed with the former wife, holding “However, as we have explained before, a trial court should ordinarily award nominal permanent alimony in cases such as the one before us because doing so ‘will allow the trial court to increase the alimony award should the [w]ife find that she is unable to secure employment, after using her best efforts, in the imputed amount.’ See Schlagel v. Schlagel, 973 So. 2d 672, 676-77 (Fla. 2d DCA 2008). An ‘award of nominal permanent alimony 'will permit the wife to petition the trial court to pursue a future increase in permanent alimony should she continue to be unable to work' and ‘will preserve the jurisdiction of the trial court to revisit the matter as the parties go on with their new lives.’”

The case was therefore remanded for the trial court to award the former wife $1.00 per year in nominal permanent alimony. Nominal alimony is an option of which many parties may not be aware. To understand how it may be applicable to your case, schedule a consultation with a Miami divorce lawyer.