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Alimony and Spousal Maintenance

Some of the terms of a divorce involve the issues that logically arise when any partnership is being dissolved. The property that was acquired by the partners must somehow be divided, and any debt that they assumed as a joint entity must be assigned as well. This is the business side of the marital partnership, but then there is the family side. If the couple had minor dependent children together they will have to work toward an agreement regarding custody or a shared parenting schedule, visitation if there is a sole custodian, and child support.

There is one other divorce term that enters into the discussion, but unlike the division of property and debt and child-related issues it is not applicable in all cases. This would be the matter of spousal support, which is alternately referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance. Spousal support is a payment made by one former partner, deemed the “supporting spouse,” to the other, termed the “dependent spouse.”

The concept began when the wives in most marriages took care of the household while the husband acted as the sole breadwinner. In the event of a divorce the woman would not have the marketable job skills to maintain the standard of living that she had enjoyed during the marriage, so alimony would be appropriate. There are of course married couples today that arrange their familial responsibilities in this manner, but it is the exception rather than the rule, making the need for spousal support less common.

Spousal support can be voluntarily agreed upon by the parties involved or it can be ordered at the discretion of the court. The laws surrounding spousal support can be found in Chapter 61.08 of the Florida Statutes, and there you will find that the matter is to be decided on a case-by case basis. Spousal support can be either permanent or temporary and rehabilitative. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to provide the dependent spouse with a source of income temporarily while he or she is preparing to become financially self supporting. Permanent alimony is just that, an ongoing and indefinite source of income.

For legal advice about alimony and spousal support contact a Tampa FL family attorney to arrange for a free consultation.

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