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Veterans' Benefits and Alimony in Florida

When handling issues such as alimony, each state has different statutes and laws. How your state deals with these issues can positively or adversely affect you; and understanding the laws in your state can help you get the best out of your divorce.

Basics of Alimony

In Florida, a court can order one of five types of alimony, including: temporary alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, and permanent alimony. The court looks at the needs of the party asking to receive alimony and the ability to pay of the second party. If the court decides there is both a need for alimony and the ability to pay, then the court looks at several factors in ordering alimony, including:

  • What the resources are of the spouse seeking alimony, including financial resources, separate property, and an award of marital property;
  • Income for both spouses including investment income for either party;
  • The earning capacity of both spouses, such as educational history, vocational skills, and/or employability;
  • The time and expense of the party seeking alimony to obtain an education or training for employment;
  • The standard of living during the marriage;
  • How long the marriage lasted;
  • The age, physical, and emotional condition of each spouse;
  • The contribution of each spouse during the marriage to homemaking, child care, education, and helping the other spouse to build his/her career;
  • Tax consequences; and
  • Responsibilities to minor children shared by the parties.

Additionally, in Florida the court can look at whether there was adultery committed during the marriage. The court can use the circumstances of the divorce to then decide if alimony is necessary.

Veterans' Benefits

In most states, benefits received from one party due to military service do not get calculated into income for the purposes of alimony. This is because most states feel that if one party receives veterans' benefits, it is because of his or her service to the country. Thus, the other party should not be able to receive these benefits just because he or she was married to a veteran, especially if the spouse was not married to the veteran during military service.

In Florida though, the court does not separate veterans' benefits from the income of the party paying support. This means that when deciding how much alimony a veteran has to pay, the court counts veterans' benefits as income, and the court may order the veteran to pay a portion of his/her benefits to his/her ex-spouse.

One Veteran's Perspective

Recently, one veteran in Charlotte County, Florida took issue with paying a part of his benefits to his ex-spouse. Terry Lynn is receiving disability benefits from the military due to being injured during the Gulf War. Mr. Lynn's ex-wife is requesting half of this payment in alimony, even though Mr. Lynn purchased a house for his ex in the divorce settlement. The court did not consider this purchase enough and when Mr. Lynn refused to pay his alimony, the court ordered Mr. Lynn to jail. Mr. Lynn states that he is taking a stand against Florida's alimony law.

When going through a divorce, there are many laws on different topics, which can be difficult to understand. The experienced South Florida divorce attorneys at Hager, Schwartz & Ross, P.A. in Miami can help you understand the issues and law surrounding a divorce, including alimony payments and veterans' benefits. Contact us today for a consultation.

Categories: Alimony, Divorce, Family Law