Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

There are multiple types of alimony that can be awarded in Florida for a short time, a moderate amount of time or permanently. What type of alimony is awarded in any specific case depends on what the parties agree on, or if the judge will decide alimony, factors such as the length of the marriage, the contributions of both spouses, and primarily the need of the spouse asking for alimony and the ability of the other spouse to pay it. When parties agree on alimony that is recorded in a marital settlement agreement, it is important that the intent of the parties with regard to alimony is accurately reflected in the wording used in the agreement.

In the case Velleff v. Velleff, 236 So.3d 1179 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018), the parties entered a marital settlement agreement which stated the former husband "shall either pay the Wife the sum of $400,000.00 as lump sum alimony or start paying permanent periodic alimony of $4,000.00 per month." Former Husband had the option of making one or more $100,000 payments, each of which would "reduce the monthly amount of permanent periodic alimony by $1,000.00 per month." The former husband made monthly payments rather than the lump sum.

The former husband filed a motion to terminate his alimony payments and the same was granted. The former wife appealed, arguing the terms of the settlement agreement provided for lump sum alimony or permanent periodic alimony, depending on the schedule of payment chosen by the former husband. Since the former husband chose the monthly payments, the former wife argued he had chosen to pay permanent periodic alimony.

The appellate court agreed with the former wife, holding, “We conclude that, when all the provisions of the MSA are considered, the intent of the parties was to establish permanent periodic alimony. See Avellone v. Avellone, 951 So.2d 80, 83 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007) ("A court must not isolate a single term or group of words and read that part in isolation.... Rather, the goal is to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of the text of the entire agreement in order to accomplish the agreement's stated meaning and purpose."). The MSA appears to have been structured with the intent of incentivizing former husband to make large lump sum payments as an alternative to paying monthly permanent periodic alimony.”

If the interpretation of your marital settlement agreement in Florida is affecting the rights for which you contracted when you divorced, contact a Miami divorce lawyer to help you. At a consultation, a game plan tailored to your needs can be created to help you move forward.