In many divorce cases, the most contested issues are how property should be divided and whether either party is entitled to spousal support. Spousal support may be warranted in some instances, but the court must make certain factual findings prior to issuing an order dictating that one spouse must provide the other with financial support; otherwise, the ruling may be unjust. In a recent Florida opinion in a case in which the husband appealed an order granting the wife support, the issuing court explained when alimony is appropriate. If you decided to end your marriage, it is prudent to seek the assistance of a dedicated Florida divorce attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.
Facts of the Case
Allegedly, the husband and the wife were married for more than twenty years before the wife filed for divorce in 2016. Throughout most of the marriage, the husband worked as a neurologist while the wife was a homemaker. He suffered a heart attack four years after they were married and reduced his work hours while receiving disability payments. In the years before the end of the marriage, the wife resumed working as a physical therapist. At the time of the divorce, the husband earned approximately $200,000 per year, while the wife earned around $85,000. The wife sought and received alimony in the amount of $2,000 per month. The husband appealed, arguing the court failed to make the factual determinations necessary to support the order.
Spousal Support Under Florida Law
Under Florida law, a court determining whether to award alimony must first make a specific determination of fact as to whether either spouse needs alimony. The court must evaluate whether either party has the ability to pay alimony as well. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court failed to make the detailed findings required under Florida law.
Rather, the court merely ordered that the wife’s alimony award would go towards satisfying her current needs and that based on his income, the husband had the ability to pay. The court found that such conclusory statements were insufficient under Florida law, as they did not set forth the reasoning behind the award. The appellate court also noted that there was no evidence that the trial court considered the relevant statutory factors in issuing the award or how the amount of the award was determined. Thus, the appellate court vacated the order and remanded for further proceedings.
Meet with a Trusted Florida Attorney
It is not uncommon for one spouse to earn a far greater income than the other, and if spouses with disparate salaries divorce, the higher-earning party may have to pay spousal support. If you intend to seek a divorce or have been served with papers instituting divorce proceedings, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The trusted Florida divorce attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are skilled at helping people seek fair and efficient dissolutions of their marriages, and if we represent you, we will work diligently on your behalf. You can reach us through our online form or at 800-283-7442 to set up a meeting.