Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

What is enough to overcome a presumption for permanent alimony in a long-term marriage? An analysis of the factors listed in Florida Statute Chp. 61.08 is what the court must consider in determining how much alimony to award and for how long. In the case Gilliand v. Gilliand, 5D17-4100 (Fla. 5th DCA, March 15, 2019), the former wife appealed the trial court’s decision to award her durational alimony rather than permanent alimony based primarily on her age, good health and work history.

The parties were in a long-term marriage. The trial court awarded 30 months of alimony at $1,150 per month, holding, “The fact that Husband's income substantially exceeds Wife's does not justify permanent alimony. The purpose of permanent alimony is not to divide future income to establish financial equality. Wife is middle aged, in good health, and has the education and work experience to be self-supporting. Awarding permanent alimony is improper where the evidence fails to show a permanent inability of Wife to sustain herself. Contrary to Wife's argument, the parties' standard of living is not a super-factor which trumps all others when setting the amount of alimony.”

The former wife appealed, arguing it was error for the court to award durational rather than permanent alimony. The appellate court agreed with the former wife, holding, “Although the court found that Wife is middle aged, in good health, and has the education and work experience to be self-supporting, it made no finding regarding whether Wife had an ongoing need for support on a permanent basis as required by section 61.08(7), Florida Statutes. Additionally, it is unclear from the Final Judgment whether the trial court found that circumstances would change in the next thirty months that would allow Wife to support herself on a permanent basis without Husband's financial assistance. Based on the Final Judgment, it appears the court relied solely on Wife's age, good health, and current income to find she was not entitled to permanent periodic alimony. Our Court has held these factors alone are insufficient to rebut the presumption that permanent periodic alimony is appropriate in a long-term marriage.”

The former wife also appealed the trial court’s decision to award half of the attorneys’ fees she requested. Her argument was that the trial court failed to make required findings concerning an attorneys’ fee award such as need and ability to pay and factors analyzing the reasonableness of fees. On this point, the appellate court agreed with the former wife. Consult with a Miami divorce attorney to learn how the Florida alimony statute will apply to the specific facts of your case.