What Makes Someone Ineligible to Receive Alimony During a Divorce?

What Makes Someone Ineligible to Receive Alimony During a Divorce

Going through a divorce is difficult enough without wondering if you’ll be awarded alimony for financial support. Also called spousal support, alimony aims to help the spouse with less income or assets maintain their standard of living after the marriage ends. 

However, only some are entitled to receive those monthly payments. Discuss what factors may disqualify you from obtaining alimony during your Florida divorce.

How Courts Determine Alimony Eligibility

In general, alimony aims to minimize any unfair economic effects of a divorce. The court examines the financial means and needs of both spouses.

Some of the key factors considered are:

  • Length of the marriage
  • The income of each spouse
  • Education and employability
  • Health and ages of the spouses
  • Childcare responsibilities
  • Standard of living during marriage

The court aims to award a reasonable amount and duration of alimony. However, some situations may make a spouse ineligible to receive spousal support.

If the Paying Spouse Can’t Afford Support Payments

Before awarding alimony, the court examines whether or not the paying spouse has the financial ability to support the recipient spouse. So if your soon-to-be ex-husband or wife has experienced significant financial struggles – like job loss, high debt, or a reduction in income – the judge may determine they lack the means to pay you a monthly amount.

We once helped a teacher client whose ex-husband’s contracting business failed amidst the housing crisis, leaving him with nothing. Despite being the lower-income spouse for 20 years of marriage, she was denied alimony because of his overwhelming business debts and subsequent bankruptcy filing.

Every case brings different circumstances, however. If you believe the paying spouse deliberately sought to lower their income to avoid alimony responsibilities, mention this concern to your divorce lawyer. There may be avenues to challenge their claims.

If It Was a Short-Term Marriage

Though not always the case, marriages spanning less than five years face more incredible difficulty securing alimony. The idea is that with less time invested, both individuals are more capable of self-supporting and returning to their single lifestyles. Even if you gave up your job or made other sacrifices for the marriage, some Florida judges expect you to bounce back quickly after a brief relationship dissolves.

However, exceptions exist if:

  • You are caring for a young child requiring your presence at home.
  • You or your spouse are disabled or have special needs.
  • One spouse supported the other through professional school, expecting future financial benefits.
  • There are other extenuating circumstances causing undue hardship.

During consultations, we’ll explore the unique details around shorter marriages when building a persuasive argument for alimony. Refrain from assuming a quick marriage means you automatically lose eligibility.

If One Spouse Committed Misconduct

Florida judges have a lot of leeway when assigning “fault” for the marriage breakdown – and how much that factors into alimony decisions. In cases of adultery, abandonment, or other offenses against the marriage, they may deny support payments to the spouse perceived as more responsible.

For example, we worked with a husband who provided evidence of his wife’s year-long affair. She had drained their joint savings to purchase a home with her boyfriend and made other major financial decisions without disclosing them. Ultimately, the court assigned majority fault to the wife and rejected her alimony request due to infidelity and deceitful behavior during the marriage.

However, just because your spouse wasn’t faithful doesn’t necessarily guarantee their support payments will cease. The court analyzes how misconduct impacted the marriage’s finances before letting it sway alimony judgments.

If You Signed an Alimony Waiver

Occasionally, couples agree upfront to waive any future right to spousal support should they separate one day. If your divorce lawyer discovers a fully executed prenuptial or postnuptial agreement containing such an alimony waiver – expect little traction fighting it.

However, if circumstances drastically changed after signing the waiver, there may be room to challenge its validity. For instance, if one spouse forfeited a lucrative career to stay home and care for a special needs child. Or if unexpected health issues now prevent working indefinitely.

Given the proper evidence, the court may determine that enforcing the original alimony waiver is unconscionable. Consult a divorce attorney to strategize arguments before the court dismisses a modification request outright.

If Both Spouses are Adults in Good Health

Sometimes, neither partner requires additional income from the other to enjoy a comfortable post-divorce lifestyle. For example, if they’re both still in their adult working prime without significant health limitations or disabilities.

Florida judges may determine whether the lesser-earning spouse can secure new employment and self-sustain. Their sacrifices during the marriage would allow their financial independence today.

But there are always opportunities to demonstrate undue hardship if denied continued support. For instance, gaps in work history to fulfill parenting duties can drastically limit income potential. The years spent outside the workforce or in part-time roles seriously impact employability.

Consult a Family Law Attorney About Your Case

No two divorces are exactly alike when it comes to spousal support decisions. An attorney can assess your situation and advocate for a fair outcome.

To discuss your options for alimony or other divorce matters, contact Vasquez de Lara Law Group in Miami, FL. Their caring legal team has helped many clients navigate divorce and rebuild their lives. 

Reach out today to schedule a consultation.

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