Divorce is a difficult and troubling situation for those who experience it first-hand. There are many issues that must be resolved by the parties, or, if the parties are unable to agree on a resolution, the Court. Some of these issues are as follows: alimony amount and duration; parenting plan for the minor children; timesharing schedule for the minor children; child support amount for the minor children; division of marital property and assets; division of marital debts; payment of attorney fees.

Equitable distribution is the division of marital assets and liabilities (debts) in a Florida divorce. All property or assets acquired after the date of the marriage are considered marital property that should be equally divided between the parties in most cases. Likewise, all debts or liabilities incurred after the date of marriage are considered marital debts that should be equally divided between the parties in most cases, regardless of the person’s name in which the debt was incurred. There are certain specific exceptions to the rule that all marital assets and liabilities should be equally divided between the parties, therefore, it is important to tell the attorney all of the facts of your case so she can determine if one of the exceptions apply to your case.

In Florida, if a party has less financial means than the other party, the party of lesser financial means may request that the party with greater financial means pay or reimburse the attorney fees and costs to litigate the divorce. The Court will determine if the facts of the case and the incomes of the parties are appropriate to order one party to pay the other party’s attorney fees and costs.

Parties can proceed with their divorce in a contested or uncontested way. An uncontested divorce is one where the parties have a full agreement on all issues of their case, including, but not limited to, alimony, parenting plan, timesharing (custody/visitation), child support, and division of assets and liabilities. If there are any issues that the parties do not agree on, you cannot have an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce will usually take one to three months to finalize once the case has been opened in court. In Hillsborough County, an uncontested divorce typically takes less than one month once the case is opened.

A contested divorce is where the parties do not agree with one or more issues of their divorce. It may be that the parties do not agree with the amount of alimony to be paid or that they do not agree with the custody/visitation schedule for their minor children. If there are any issues that are not resolved, then the assigned Judge will make the final decision. A contested divorce can take anywhere from six months to two years to finalize.




For purposes of determining alimony, marriages are divided into three categories: short-term marriages are less than seven years in length; moderate length marriages are seven to sixteen years in length; and long-term marriage are seventeen years or more in length. The length of the marriage is the period from the date of marriage until the date of filing the action for dissolution of marriage.

Contrary to popular belief, there are no strict guidelines for alimony. There first must be an actual need on the part of the person requesting alimony and the other party must have the ability to pay alimony. Alimony can be awarded in a marriage of any length; it all depends on the specific circumstances of the case. Some of the factors the court considers are located in Florida Statute 61.08, and are as follows:

(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage.
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to assist a person with their short-term needs in making the transition from being married to being single. As such, the length of the award may not exceed two years and shall not be modifiable in amount or duration. 

Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in gaining the ability to become self-supporting through either the redevelopment of previous skills or the acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop employment skills or credentials.

Durational alimony may be awarded in a marriage of any length. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following the divorce. The length of an award of durational alimony may not exceed the length of the marriage.

Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration, but also following a marriage of moderate or even short duration if there are exceptional circumstances. Permanent alimony terminates only upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. In awarding permanent alimony, the court shall first determine that no other form of alimony is fair & reasonable under the circumstances.

An award of alimony cannot leave the payor with significantly less net income than the recipient of alimony unless there are written findings of exceptional circumstances. When modifying alimony, the original jurisdiction state keeps continuing jurisdiction to modify the alimony order throughout the existence of the support obligation even if all parties left the state. Therefore, another state cannot modify a Florida alimony order even if all parties have left Florida.


Da Silva Law Firm Logo

Attorney Monica P. Lopez Da Silva focuses her legal practice exclusively in Family Law. We offer experienced representation in all areas and aspects of family law, including divorce, paternity, child support, timesharing (custody & visitation), parenting plans, modifications, alimony, domestic violence injunctions, mediation and dependency cases.

Design and Development


Da Silva Law Firm in Tampa, Florida, represents client’s from the entire Tampa Bay Area, including, Bartow, Brandon, Brooksville, Clearwater, Dade City, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, Lakeland, Lutz, New Port Richey, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Plant City, Polk County, Port Richey, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Temple Terrace, Riverview

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. This web site is intended for general information purposes only. The presence of third party links does not imply an endorsement of the third party website or its owner or the accuracy of its content. The decision about which attorney to hire is an important decision that should not be based solely upon lawyer advertisements. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.