My spouse wants alimony but is capable of working; will the Court make me pay it?
One of the most common issues for long duration marriages in Florida is the spouse who has a college degree and can work but who has not worked recently in the marriage. For example, the parties may agree for one spouse to stay at home while the children are younger but agree that the spouse will return to work as the children grow up. As it becomes time for the spouse to return to work the marriage breaks down and at the time of divorce the stay at home spouse is alleging need of permanent alimony.
While the case is obviously harder to prove because the status quo was that the spouse was not working, it is possible to decrease a spouse’s need based on their proven ability to contribute to their own support. In a recent case from the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, which includes Fort Myers, the Wife stayed home with the children and ran a small home business. However, she had a nursing degree and admitted she could return to work full time. The Court found that it was reasonable that she return to work and decreased her need based on her ability to earn full time income. In these circumstances it is required to prove actual ability to earn and not purely a speculative ability to earn.
See, Zambuto v. Zambuto, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D2758 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2011).
Dustin Michael Butler is an Attorney with Martin Law Firm, P.L., whose practice focuses in Family Law and Civil Litigation. He is admitted to practice law in the State of Florida and the Federal Court for the Middle District of Florida. He primarily practices in Lee County Florida in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Florida.