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Bridge the Gap Alimony

In 1990, the First District Court of Appeal approved “bridge the gap” as a form of rehabilitative alimony in Shea v Shea, 572 So. 2d 558 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990). In this case, the trial court awarded the former home the couple shared with the wife as a lump sum for rehabilitative alimony. The husband attacked this award on the grounds that the wife’s rehabilitation plan failed to describe the form and duration of the alimony award.

The court upheld the award on the grounds that even if a spouse is already employed, or employable, an award of rehabilitative alimony may still be justified as a bridge-the-gap measure, to aid the recipient in making the transition from a marital to a single state.

Bridge-the-gap alimony is emerging as a potent tool for obtaining awards for the short-term needs of their clients. Understanding its uses and limitations is essential for the proper representation of clients in such circumstances.

The court observed that at most, a party should be awarded alimony to ‘bridge’ the gap between the high standard of living enjoyed during a marriage and a more modest standard that a party can provide for themselves. It is a method of satisfying short-term needs after a marriage.

Contact a West Palm Beach Lawyer Today!

If you have made the decision to end your marriage in Florida, contact the lawyers at Quality Family Law as soon as possible to find out how we can assist you.We assist families in West Palm Beach, North Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Wellington, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Springs, and Boynton Beach, Florida. Call the Bridge the Gap attorneys of Quality Family Law at (561) 557-8686 today.

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Can I Modify The Amount Or Duration Of Bridge-The-Gap Alimony?

As stated in Florida Statute § 61.08(5), the conditions of a spousal support order will be final once they have been set forth by the court. Since it is only intended to provide the receiving spouse economic assistance for short-term needs, the modification is strictly prohibited.  

When the court orders maintenance that is durational, rehabilitative or permanent, for example, they have considered that one or both of the party's needs could change over this extended period of time. When it comes to bridge-the-gap alimony, it is understood that this form of support is temporary, thus there is no need for modification.

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How Does Bridge-The-Gap Alimony Differ From Durational Alimony?

As mentioned earlier, bridge-the-gap alimony is intended to provide one party with financial support for a limited period of time, typically no longer than two years. During this time, it is expected that the receiving spouse takes measures to become self-reliant.

While similar to the purpose of durational alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony does not necessarily factor in how long the couple has been married or how long it might take for the receiving spouse to gain employment. Oppositely, the length of durational alimony will often correspond with how long the couple has been married—as long as it was a short-term (less than 7 years) or moderate-term (7-17 years) marriage. As such, durational alimony payments cannot exceed the length of the marriage, which would allow for a maximum award of 17 years.

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Additional Resources

Section 61.08 Alimony- Visit the website of the Florida legislature to see alimony provisions throughout the state. It discusses the standard of living established during the marriage and the physical condition of each party. Here you will also find the factors a court considers before granting alimony.

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Palm Beach County Alimony Lawyer | Quality Family Law

If you need obtaining support from your spouse during the divorce process contact the knowledgeable lawyers of Quality Family Law.

For your convenience, our family law division attorneys have an office located in West Palm Beach, FL to help you with your legal matters. We serve the North Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Wellington, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Springs, and Boynton Beach areas. Call Quality Family Law at