Florida state law allows for a number of different types of alimony support, including permanent, durational, rehabilitative or bridge-the-gap. All forms of alimony are aimed at providing a level of economic support to a former spouse who needs it, but the different types are used to address different needs. Bridge-the-gap alimony is unique in the set of circumstances it seeks to remedy. So what exactly is bridge-the-gap alimony–and when is it warranted?
Bridge-the-gap alimony differs from other forms of alimony in that it is aimed at allowing the dependent spouse to more easily “transition” from marriage to single life. While bridge-the-gap alimony can be awarded in short-term monthly payments, it is often provided as a lump sum.
To illustrate how bridge-the-gap alimony works, consider the case of Nugent v. Nugent. David Nugent and Joy Nugent were married for almost 10 years and had no children. While David was employed throughout the marriage, Joy was only able to work sporadically due to health issues and was unemployed at the time the divorce action was initiated. Joy intended to move in with her mother in Arkansas, but had no money to pay for the move or certain emergent medical expenses.
To cover these costs, Joy sought $2500 in bridge-the-gap alimony from David (in addition to durational alimony), which the trial court awarded. David appealed this judgment, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion.
However, upon review, the Fifth District Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court. The appellate court asserted that Joy Nugent’s moving and medical expenses were exactly the type of costs that Florida’s bridge-the-gap alimony statute is aimed at covering. Furthermore, the other key part of the statute–that the paying spouse have the ability to do so–was not in question here.
In short, Nugent v. Nugent makes it clear that trial courts have discretion to award bridge-the-gap alimony when two facts can be shown: that the receiving spouse has a clear need and that the paying spouse has the ability to pay. Consult with an experienced attorney on your case today such as the alimony lawyer Tampa FL locals trust.
Thanks to authors at Mckinney Law Group for their insight into Alimony and the Law.