Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

What Is Bridge-the-Gap Alimony?

The state of Florida expressly states in ยง 61.08 of The 2016 Florida Statutes that Florida courts may grant alimony in one of six ways, one of which is bridge-the-gap alimony. Florida law makes clear that all forms of alimony are designed to provide a dependent spouse with economic support for a set period of time according to their financial needs, but bridge-the-gap alimony is unique in that this form of alimony is neither temporary nor permanent in nature.

Here is a closer look at what bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to do as well as other factors that make this form of alimony unique.

Defining Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

As stated, bridge-the-gap alimony is neither temporary or permanent, strictly speaking. Instead, Florida’s alimony statute indicates that a dependent spouse is to receive bridge-the-gap alimony for the purpose of transitioning from married life to single life.

The “gap” in question, then, is bridged by identifying the dependent spouse’s legitimate short-term needs. Once those needs are identified, the court may award bridge-the-gap alimony until the spouse has effectively transitioned to single life.

Florida’s alimony statute provides additional guidelines regarding the duration of bridge-the-gap alimony and other factors that could cause a bridge-the-gap alimony award to terminate.

Florida Law on Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

The first limitation to be aware of regarding bridge-the-gap alimony is that there is a guaranteed end date. Courts are not allowed to award bridge-the-gap alimony that exceeds two years in duration.

Further, this form of alimony is designed to terminate automatically if either party dies or if the dependent spouse receiving the alimony remarries. Also of note is that the length or amount of bridge-the-gap alimony is not modifiable once an offer is agreed upon by spouses, so carefully consult an offer and discuss the matter with your Florida family lawyer before agreeing.

Do note, however, that Florida law does not limit a dependent spouse to receiving only one form of alimony. Just because you receive bridge-the-gap alimony for basic living expenses and legitimate short-term needs does not mean the court cannot also award rehabilitative, permanent or temporary alimony.

If the court decides to award bridge-the-gap alimony, the dependent spouse may receive the award in either a lump sum or in incremental installments. For tax purposes, a lump sum payment is arguably preferable for the dependent spouse since such payments are generally viewed as property distribution that is not treated as a receiving spouse’s income.

For more questions about bridge-the-gap alimony or Florida alimony law more broadly, contact The McKinney Law Group for a legal consultation.

If you have questions regarding Tampa family law, or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]