Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Alimony

In long-term marriages in Florida, there is a rebuttable presumption that permanent alimony is appropriate. This presumption can be overcome if it is shown that a party would be capable of eventually earning income that would support the lifestyle established during the marriage. A long-term marriage in Florida is one existing for 17 or more years. In the case Molina v. Perez, 3D17-1642 (Fla. 3d DCA June 19, 2019), we examine a matter in which the trial court denied permanent alimony in a long-term marriage.

The parties were married for 20 years. The former husband worked while the former wife was a homemaker. Following a trial, the court awarded the former wife 15 years of durational alimony, finding the former husband had overcome the presumption of permanent alimony because “[a]s set forth by the Husband's vocational expert's report and deposition testimony, the Wife is capable of increasing her income over time with reasonable effort on her part." However, the vocational expert’s report was not entered into evidence, nor was his deposition transcript.

The former wife appealed. Because the expert’s report and opinion was not entered into evidence at trial, the court could not consider it in making its ruling. Therefore, the appellate court held, “Under these circumstances, it was error to award the Wife durational alimony instead of permanent periodic alimony. Because there was no substantial competent evidence that the Wife's ability to earn income would increase after fifteen years, the Husband failed to rebut the presumption in favor of permanent alimony.” The appellate court therefore ordered, “We reverse and remand with instructions for the trial court to enter an amended final judgment that classifies the Husband's alimony payment as permanent, not durational. In so ruling, we do not foreclosure the Husband from seeking modification or termination of the alimony if there is a substantial change in circumstances.”

If Florida permanent alimony is an issue in your case, speak with a Miami divorce attorney to understand your best options in moving forward. A consultation can help you understand how much alimony you may be ordered to pay or receive.