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All Alimony Awards are Not the Same

Section 61.08, Florida Statutes, and relevant case law, provides for several different types of alimony awards.  The likelihood of receiving each type of award depends on several different factors, including the need of one spouse for support, the ability of the other spouse to pay for that support, and the length of the marriage.  Below is a brief description of available types of alimony:

  • Permanent Periodic Alimony–  This type of alimony is regularly ordered for long-term marriages, defined as lasting for 17 years or more.  However, it may be awarded in (i) medium-term marriages (7-16 years) depending on certain factors such as the contribution of each party during the marriage and the standard of living during the marriage or (ii) short-term marriages (up to 6 years) if there are exceptional circumstances, such as a spouse contracting a debilitating disease.  As the name suggests, this award lasts for an indefinite amount of time and is paid on a regular basis.  However, it may later be modified or terminated by court order if there is a substantial change in circumstances.

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Am I Required to Attend a Parenting Course?

Section 61.21 of the Florida Statutes requires each party in a case that involves children and custody/time-sharing issues to attend a four-hour parenting course.  This “Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course” gives parents the opportunity to learn about, among other topics, how their court action may affect the emotional well-being of their children.

You should note that, except in very limited circumstances, a judge will not enter a final judgment until both parties have (i) attended the course and (ii) filed a certificate of completion with the clerk of the court.

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Section 61.13002, Florida Statutes

Temporary time-sharing modification and child support modification due to military service.—

(1)If a supplemental petition or a motion for modification of time-sharing and parental responsibility is filed because a parent is activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service and the parent’s ability to comply with time-sharing is materially affected as a result, the court may not issue an order or modify or amend a previous judgment or order that changes time-sharing as it existed on the date the parent was activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned to military service, except that a court may enter a temporary order to modify or amend time-sharing if there is clear and convincing evidence that the temporary modification or amendment is in the best interests of the child. When entering a temporary order under this section, the court shall consider and provide for, if feasible, contact between the military servicemember and his or her child, including, but not limited to, electronic communication by webcam, telephone, or other available means. The court shall also permit liberal time-sharing during periods of leave from military service, as it is in the child’s best interests to maintain the parent-child bond during the parent’s military service. Read more

Section 61.076, Florida Statutes

Distribution of retirement plans upon dissolution of marriage.—

(1)All vested and nonvested benefits, rights, and funds accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, profit-sharing, annuity, deferred compensation, and insurance plans and programs are marital assets subject to equitable distribution.

(2)If the parties were married for at least 10 years, during which at least one of the parties who was a member of the federal uniformed services performed at least 10 years of creditable service, and if the division of marital property includes a division of uniformed services retired or retainer pay, the final judgment shall include the following:

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