Women Winning Divorce with Heather B. Quick, Esq.

#5-Alimony Options in Florida

Episode Summary

***DISCLAIMER ** July 2023 Included Many Family Law Changes, Notably, Alimony Reform In this fifth episode of Women Winning Divorce, Florida Women's Law Group CEO, owner and attorney, Heather Quick defines the different types of alimony allowed in the State of Florida including temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational and permanent alimony.

Episode Notes

"Women Winning Divorce" is a radio show and podcast hosted by Heather Quick, CEO and Owner of Florida Women's Law Group. Each week we focus on different aspects of family law to help guide women through the difficult and emotional legal challenges they are facing. Heather brings over 20 years of law experience that advocates and empowers women to achieve happier and healthier lives. Join Heather each week as she discusses family law issues including divorce, custody, alimony, paternity, narcissism, mediation and more.  


This program was created to provide tips and insight to women with family law issues. It is not intended to be legal advice because every situation is different.  


Visit us at https://www.womenwinningdivorce.com/ for more resources.

Text us at 904-944-6800 for a copy of Heather's Top 5 Divorce Tips.  


If you have questions or a topic you would like Heather to cover, email us at  marketing@4womenlaw.com

Episode Transcription

Julie Morgan:                     Welcome to Women Winning Divorce with your host, Heather Quick. Heather brings over 20 years of law experience that advocates and empowers women to achieve happier and healthier lives. Each week, we provide knowledge and guidance on different aspects of family law to help lead women through the difficult and emotional, legal challenges that they're facing. Listen in, and as she discusses issues, including divorce, custody, alimony, paternity, narcissism, mediation and other family law issues to provide insight on the journey of Women Winning Divorce. Welcome to the show, I'm Julie Morgan and I'm joined by your host, Heather Quick. Hi Heather.

Heather Quick:                  Good morning, Julie. How are you today?

Julie Morgan:                     I am doing quite well because you know what? This is going to be a fun topic.

Heather Quick:                  Oh, indeed, indeed it is.

Julie Morgan:                     Alimony. Let's talk about it. Let's get into it. What is alimony?

Heather Quick:                  Alimony is created in the law to provide for the spouse who has needs without the ability to financially support themself after a divorce. There's certain amount of money in the household when they're married and then when they separate, historically, it's been men paying alimony to women because they didn't work or can't make as much to maintain their standard of living after divorce.

Julie Morgan:                     Is alimony required in a divorce in Florida?

Heather Quick:                  No, it's not required. There are many factors and it's something that scares the heck out of anybody who thinks they might have to pay alimony and the idea of permanent alimony. There are several benchmarks and the first one is how long the parties have been married.  Typically, in the long-term marriage, anything over 17 years, then it's presumed there's going to be permanent alimony. However, if both people are professionals making the same salary, no, it's not going to be. But there are many cases where that's not the case. Sometimes it can be a shorter-term marriage but there are reasons and factors that support an order of permanent alimony.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. So let me ask you this, so we defined alimony. Do you believe is especially important for the stay-at-home mom?

Heather Quick:                  When you have not worked and supported your husband maybe not financially, they're the financial breadwinner, but supported in other ways. You are at home, maintaining the home, having children, you don't even have to have children. Not everybody does and they stay-at-home, but they maintain the home. They provide support for that husband, allowing him to not worry about those details and go be successful. That is the theory behind it. "Hey, I'm here taking care of all this other stuff so that you can go earn the money, how do I get compensated for that in a divorce?" You want to trade me in, you turn 50 and you're thinking, "Now you want a 25-year-old wife. Here I've given half my life towards this marriage and to your career." To your career, because it's really, it's all financial at the end of the day.

                                                Therefore, how can we compensate that? Is that fair? Well, of course, a lot of people don't think so, but we've talked about that and we're talking about the law, not what's fair. It is just how it's equitable, ideally. This person, how do we compensate them? In the law, it's usually financially. You think about personal injury, medical malpractice, civil lawsuits, it's all about money. You can't change the divorce, the fact that she's given all this time and energy to this relationship and now what? She's supposed to go out and get a minimum wage job but here they had a great life? She's raised the kids and the house, car, country club, all of these things and you're just going to say, no? "I'm not going to, there's going to be no support for you.".

Julie Morgan:                     I am trying not to get ahead of myself with asking you the questions. And so I'm trying to go step-by-step, but I have so many other things I want to ask you. Okay. So let's talk about the formula. Is there a formula that the court has or that's in the law that says, "Okay, you are going to get X amount of dollars."

Heather Quick:                  No, and that has been a topic of much proposed legislation for many, many years. It is an extremely volatile topic. I took a stand on that, just so you know, and I got completely harassed. It's unbelievable how aggressive and awful the situation became. We were in Tallahassee at the capital, and it gets people very fired up and they want a formula. They want more predictability. The way the formula was orchestrated, just didn't take into account the need. There is, it's the ability to pay and the need. That's where we start and that means, what the husband makes. So many times, one spouse may have the ability to pay, but the other one doesn't have the need. Like I said, say they're both practicing doctors, maybe even he makes a little more but she makes so much too that the needs are covered.

                                                It really is a good system, but it really requires a good lawyer to help you understand, especially if you're entitled to alimony, how does this work? What do you have to prove to the courts in order to get alimony? It's important, because it is a financial analysis and sometimes, we even have experts in there to help us with proving the need for alimony. The need and or where all the money is, when he's saying, "Oh, I don't have that much money," but it's there. That happens more with a business owner, just because there's a lot of ways that you can legally not have as high of an income, but usually with your W2 employee, no matter what they're earning, you're tracking it. You know how much is coming in.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. Yeah. You can hide it basically. That's me saying that not Heather. Alrighty. So-

Heather Quick:                  But I don't disagree.

Julie Morgan:                     So you really think about it, you said that you can bring in experts. And it's about the person's earning ability as well and also their employability. Because if they have not worked the entire marriage, let's say they don't have an education, they have no experience, then what else are you supposed to do?

Heather Quick:                  Exactly. That's the reality Julie, and you know what, now even more than ever, because the world is moving at such a fast pace. If you pay attention to any of those thought leaders on the technology, I mean, the world is moving fast, and things are changing fast. It’s a struggle for somebody who doesn't have experience with technology to almost get any job. It is everywhere and it's not that they can't learn, but that's a real barrier that has to be considered and looked at.

                                                There are certain things that some people just can't do, even if they had a college degree 30 years ago, okay and they will tell you, "My brain works but who's going to hire me to run a house or raise the kids? That’s what I've done for the last dozen years, I just didn't get a paycheck for it per se." It’s very challenging for anyone who has been out of the workforce and look at now, look at Zoom. So many of these court proceedings now are on Zoom. There are many clients who just can't figure that out, that's just because they never really had to, they're older, and that's just the facts. They haven't stayed up and haven't had to deal with it. That is another barrier that really does come into play when we look at their employability and what they can do.

Julie Morgan:                     Another factor, parenting responsibilities and contributions during marriage. This is actually a topic that we touched on last week on the show under Child Custody. So how does that work out? Why is this important?

Heather Quick:                  You know, this is really important, and I can give so many examples but a really good example is your children before they drive and if they have a lot of activities, there's a lot of logistics, there's a lot of care. Sometimes maybe they go to a school there isn't a bus and the other parent, say you're divorcing, and he travels for work. He's not even there during the week.

                                                It's not manageable for you to do both because of the needs of the children, that there is not another parent to help share that with you or with a special needs child. They have a lot of appointments or a child who has a lot of medical issues and the transportation and the appointments. There's just a lot that truly you can't get anybody else to do. That takes that time from you, so many times the age of the children, their needs and then who can help you with that, that's a big deal. It is an absolute factor that we look at with alimony and the courts are going to consider that.

Julie Morgan:                     If you could find someone to pay for it, someone you would have to pay to do it, then you have to pay for it.

Heather Quick:                  Indeed, so then how do we reconcile that? If they're better off with the parent, rather than a paid person, then that's really who they should be with. Many of the courts feel that way because we look at what's in their best interest. For those who have been listening throughout, on a weekly basis, I'm always tying one thing into another, and it all comes together.  Which is why you need somebody who can see the big picture and say, well alimony in and of itself, if a person's not really doing a detailed analysis, they may be like, this doesn’t apply.  But there's so many things and we have to really look at every one of these factors. How do I make this case for this person? Or, and as I've said this before, because of course we represent women only and if she has exposure for alimony, I'm like, "Well, how do we defeat these so that you don't have to pay?"

Julie Morgan:                     By the way-

Heather Quick:                  I know you're laughing, but you know, I'm very straightforward. I may not be consistent in my beliefs, but I am. Because I am for women.

Julie Morgan:                     Yes, I am laughing. If you want to catch up on any of those episodes, you can go to womenwinningdivorce.com. So what about the lifestyle during the marriage? How much of a part does this play in how much the person can get for alimony?

Heather Quick:                  It absolutely plays a part. Meaning annual vacations, if as a family, you guys have always taken vacations and those are part of the history of the marriage, that's relative. It's not now that you're divorced, you don't ever get to take a vacation and that money shouldn't be put into the equation.  Now, when I say equation, so there is what's called the financial affidavit. All of our clients hear about it ad nauseam. We work with them very diligently. It's basically a budget. It can be very overwhelming. It's like 10 pages and we are breaking down what it costs for you to live. And that is one of the most important pieces of evidence in the case, because that's how we determine what your need is.

                                                So on one of those lines is vacations, on one of those lines is pet care. People are like, "What? You're spending that much money on your pets?” We've talked about kids, but once you have pets, they are expensive too. A line item for that and there's many things. With many women, it's your personal care and getting your hair done. No man wants to know how much that costs, but it costs. But you like it when you have the nice blonde hair or no roots in gray, I mean, come on. Like what? Now all of a sudden we're not getting her hair done or get her nails done? And now she's falling on the floor laughing. But Julie, it's true.

Julie Morgan:                     I'm laughing because it is true. It really is. But you know what? This is something I'm sure. Again, I'm not the only one who didn't think about this. The financial affidavit, it really covers everything.

Heather Quick:                  It does, and for many women, it can be intimidating. Because they're like, "I don't know. I don't know what the mortgage is, the electricity, whatever." Well, we are going to help you with that, and you have to get the bank statements and you go through and let's figure it out. We do more than one financial affidavit because where you're living right now, as we're starting this divorce, you may or may not live there afterwards. It may be a huge house that is going to cost so much. It doesn't make financial sense to stay there. Or you may not want to, or you do, so we have to look at that. There's a lot of things that go into the analysis. 

                                                You have to look at food, meals out, meals in.These women had no idea they were spending that much.  It's a good exercise and it helps you see where the money's going, because you know what? You really need to pay attention as this finishes because you're going to have a set number coming in and you're going to need to know that, what is it covering? Last week, we talked about child support. There's a whole section for what you spend on your child. Guess what? That gets removed for determination of alimony, that seems crazy, but...

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. So there's a lot there. There's really a lot there. I mean, there's things that we need to talk about even more in the next segment of the show. This is Women Winning Divorce with Heather Quick owner and attorney for Florida Women's Law Group. Heather, one of the things we're going to kind of double back before we get the different types of alimony here in the state of Florida. But what does the length of the marriage have to do with alimony?

Heather Quick:                  The length of the marriage it's been defined in the law, and I'll just give you that to start. The law has defined this is a short-term marriage. That means seven years or less. A middle term marriage is seven to 17 years. A long-term marriage is over 17 years. Now, the reason they define this is because then they're saying in a short-term marriage, we're going to really much presume that there's not going to be permanent alimony. There are always exceptions in the law. Same with the middle term. We're going to presume that permanent alimony it's not going to exist on that length of marriage. Then with a long-term marriage, we are going to assume that yes, permanent alimony would apply.

                                                That's just a basis, a guideline for the analysis, because then it goes on too many other factors, some of which we've talked about. But at least it helps people understand because, when someone comes to the office, the length of the marriage isn’t set in stone. It's not a short-term marriage, you go into this type of alimony. It's not like that. It's a full analysis where we incorporate everything and it may be something where our analysis is based on what I'm hearing, what I understand of the case, before we've gotten into all the financials, it sounds like alimony will be an issue. Then what we determine in giving advice is this is what we think realistically we can achieve for you, what's the amount of alimony and for how long. So that's the second analysis.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. So you mentioned some of these terms just now. So let's go ahead and talk about the types of alimony. In Florida, there are five types of alimony. Tell me this first of all, is this different for every state?

Heather Quick:                  Yes. Some states do not have permanent alimony and that one I know for sure, because that one is such a hot topic all the time. It is dependent on the state, the various types of alimony. There may be similarities, but ours are specifically defined as these types.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. So let's break down the five types of alimony. First of all, temporary alimony. It sounds self-explanatory but tell me about it.

Heather Quick:                  Well it is, but that means that's during the proceedings, during the divorce, we filed for divorce, especially if somebody moves out, okay, well, you need to continue supporting your wife as we are going through the divorce. That may be through consent or we go and get a court order and say, he moved his direct deposit salary from the joint account to his own account and is not paying the bills and she needs support and this is what we need to do. That's helpful because sometimes the cases go on a year or two, so it becomes important to have a temporary order on support.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. So if this is during the divorce proceedings, it seems like this should be like an emergency type situation. "Okay, I need to go before the judge right now and we need to talk about this because if he's moved his direct deposit, then I don't have any money."

Heather Quick:                  Yes, but it is not an emergency. The courts do not look at financial issues as an emergency. They are more...no, I know. I know. It's crazy, but it's true. Now, it doesn't mean we can't... I mean, they're just so, there's so much going on with the court system, it's hard to get a hearing in a short amount of time. As you can imagine, if the husband has done this, they're not in a hurry to get in front of a judge. They're scheduling issues with their attorney and the judge, but many times you can get there, but it's difficult.

                                                That is something that we all talk to our clients about. If you're concerned about this, that's fine. Don't tell them you're coming to see an attorney. Don't tip them off because financially, that's going to hurt you more and doing our very best, you have to expect we're not going to get in front of the court within the first 60 days of filing. Unless there's a true emergency that one of the judges at one point wrote an order, blood on the pavement kind of thing, so... which is kind of graphic, but that's what they consider an emergency. Not finances. Therefore, there's strategy from the very, very beginning so that our clients don't suffer as much and don't have to deal with a lot of these issues. You know, we try to help them anticipate things that will happen.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. Is one way of anticipating this is, "You need to sock some money away."

Heather Quick:                  Yes. That is a very, very good idea.

Julie Morgan:                     Yeah. Got you. Got you. Bridge-the-gap alimony. What exactly is that?

Heather Quick:                  That was created based on exactly what it says, and this is a very common type of alimony. Bridge-the-gap from being married to being single. There's going to be a period of time and the max is usually about two years. It's a very defined amount. This you might see in a shorter-term marriage. You can also have a couple different types of alimony ordered in a divorce. Bridge-the-gap is basically you're going to need time to get back on your feet and get readjusted. Maybe if there are kids, those could be some issues.  That's typically what that is addressing.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay and does it say, "Well, you have to use the money to do this during this time."

Heather Quick:                  Not for bridge-the-gap. That's for rehabilitative alimony.

Julie Morgan:                     So what is the money used for? I mean, just anything that you need, basically.

Heather Quick:                  Yes, generally we have made the case that's going to help housing. Maybe you need time to find a job or you want to get a different job that's going to give you more money, but maybe you need some training. You need to update, like we were talking about earlier, technology. I'm skilled to do this work, but they're going to have to train me and I'm not going to make as much money until then or I've got to renew maybe some kind of certification. Could be a lot of things, but also, it's just going to take me time to get up to speed. I need a year or two where you're helping support me till I can figure out what I'm going to do.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. You know what, it sounds like with this one, the spouse, the husband will say, "Oh, I won." I mean, are they happy with that as long as they don't choose the longer term one?

Heather Quick:                  I've never heard anybody say, "Yeah, I'm happy about that kind of alimony."

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. Got it. Got it. I'm just thinking, I was telling you my thoughts.

Heather Quick:                  It's the right way to look at it. I like the way you think.

Julie Morgan:                     You know, because I'm seriously, if you look at it, we're talking about the five different types of alimony and that's a specific period of time. It's not permanent. It's not going to kill you. So it just seems like you can think about it in a more positive way.

Heather Quick:                  Yes it's definitely a shorter period of time and that has value. Of course. Knowing this is when it's going to end. A lot of times, it's not modifiable, meaning you can't go change it. So that's a value as well.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. That's interesting. Alrighty. So let's talk about the next one. Rehabilitative alimony. What does that mean?

Heather Quick:                  The best example is you didn't finish your education or you don't have one, or you have a degree but have never worked.  They may decide that they want to get an education or want to go back to school for something else or need certification to get jobs in a certain field.  To pursue that you need to have a detailed plan, that's what the law requires. For example, all the classes that you're going to take and it will take exactly three years for you to finish and have a degree in nursing.  When you’re finished you're going to make a nice living and this plan, this alimony does allow for that.

                                                You may not be able to work, you might need this amount of money to go to school and to support yourself. But it does have a defined amount of time as well. You have to have a plan like, "Hey, I'm going to go back to school. I'm going to get this degree. I'm going to go become a dental hygienist. There’re all these jobs out there.  I will then just need to do this for two years." There’s all different careers, and it helps with these to specifically have a career that it kind of points right to a job. For example, a registered nurse, a dental hygienist, not something like broadcasting. I mean Julie, I don't think it's that easy to get a radio job on where you are. I mean, like you could do the plan for that, however, "I want to be a newscaster on TV," is not a defined plan. I would say, "Well, let's come up with something a little more solid that has a clear path to employability."

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. Now here's my question. Do you help them develop that plan?

Heather Quick:                  Oh, absolutely. I mean, we talk about it. I've had clients go to nursing, go into nutrition with the idea, this is exactly what I want to do and how I wanted to do it and I really always wanted to do this as a job. Maybe they started getting the training or education but had to stop because of kids or other circumstances. Yes, we absolutely talk to them. Maybe they want to go to cosmetology school, they want to be a yoga instructor. I love yoga but that doesn't pay a whole lot, so I would say, let's talk about something else.

                                                Let's really look at, what those jobs look like? Take this opportunity to reinvent yourself. What did you not pursue that you always wanted to do? Those are the kind of conversations we do have with the women who are in that exact position. Who are like, "Yeah, I want to go do this. I want to become an esthetician," so many different things that really, it's like, Okay, that makes sense. There are jobs out there for that. This would be the length of time that it would take to qualify for that job and that would be the evidence we would have going to court saying, 'That's the type of alimony we need, rehabilitative.'"

Julie Morgan:                     Heather, you are a career coach, a therapist, a life coach, you're an attorney obviously, but I'm just naming the extra stuff. You know what I mean? You and your team, you really have to have on all these different hats in order to help your client, because this is about starting another life.

Heather Quick:                  It really is, it is about their future, which is the way we look at this divorce.  It's a relationship with our office because we want you to be successful. We want you to use this as, hard that it can be, use it as an opportunity to start over or just to really recognize your full potential.

Julie Morgan:                     You're listening to Women Winning Divorce with Heather Quick owner and attorney for Florida Women's Law Group. Heather, let's pick up where we left off. We have two more types of alimony in the State of Florida that we need to talk about. The first, one duration alimony. All right, what does that mean?

Heather Quick:                  The premise of that is where it's not really meeting the standard for permanent alimony, but it's necessitated because of the economics and it should be for a set period of time. There are some rules on it.  If you're married for 15 years, durational alimony cannot be longer than the length of the marriage. That is in the statute.Basically, you can't name it durational and then have it last longer. If it’s listed as durational then let's say in a 13-year marriage, it's probably going to be about half. That's where you would start off just thinking, what would that realistically equal when you're looking at time. Durational, because we've already gone through the analysis, okay, there is alimony and now we're on that second part, for how long? Durational is probably going to be more appropriate for that length of marriage. We don't have a rehab plan, we need it longer than a bridge-the-gap, so now let's look at durational and we're going to argue for that as a period-of-time.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay, I believe you just said this, but I want to make sure, is this the most common?

Heather Quick:                  I would say this is very common. Absolutely. It may be, not always, but you could be married longer than 17 years, but permanent alimony just really is probably not the most appropriate. I'll give you the example I usually give people is, maybe they're married 20 years, but they got married at 19 or 20. So there still very young now, you're in your 40s and educated.  In reality, I don't think that is a likely award for you. I think more likely would be a duration alimony award.

                                                That could be 20 years, but it can't be longer than that if that's how long you've been married. That would more likely than not be the most appropriate.  That's kind of what we were talking about, Julie where, okay, you're saying permanent alimony and us saying, okay, let's be realistic. Just in our attorney-client discussions that this is what I see that best fits your situation. This doesn't mean we're not putting forth a case on all, but it's helpful I think, for the clients to hear from their attorney what’s realistic. I think that helps clients when it comes time to mediate and make decisions. If I say, it's a long shot on the permanent and I don't really think it's your strongest case, so if we're negotiating, durational makes the most sense for you.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. Random thought, has someone ever been eligible for alimony and then they said, "Nope, I don't want it. He can have everything that he has. I am not interested." Has anyone ever done that?

Heather Quick:                  Yes, and then they come to us a year later and they're like, "I was a fool." I was like, "Yeah, you were. You didn't stand up for yourself." Yes, we certainly have and sometimes they change their tune.The key is for me, like we talked about earlier, you need to know what you're entitled to. You are an adult and you make your decisions. Unless it's really bad and then we say we can't sign off on that because I don't think you truly appreciate it, but that doesn't happen that often.

                                                Especially when I write them a letter and say, "You're doing this against our advice and we very much disagree. You need to sign this and acknowledge. We've told you, this is really a bad idea." Then they kind of second guess that like, "Oh, okay. Maybe not." I think there is a thought and I'm certain many women have done that. They may say, "You know what? It was worth it. I had to be free." That's the most important because we are adults and I do respect somebody's decision.  You just need to understand that I've told you that three years from now, you may second guess it, but as long as you recognize that and you're fine with that, it’s your decision. 

Julie Morgan:                     Can someone go with a settlement? Like this is it, this is the final dollar amount as opposed to alimony?

Heather Quick:                  Yes. Well, what we call that, it's not really a different type of alimony, it's called lump-sum. Basically lump-sum is your payout of durational. In saying, "Instead of you paying me for two years, well, let's say $2000 a month, just give me $50,000 and we walk away." That would be an example of lump sum. Absolutely, of course in negotiations, there's lots of possibilities. I don't think I did the math on that correctly, but you get the idea.

Julie Morgan:                     You know-

Heather Quick:                  You're looking at me like, "Heather was that $50,000, $2000." And I was like, "No it wasn't."

Julie Morgan:                     But I like your math better. So don't worry about it.

Heather Quick:                  I'm sure she'd be like, "Yeah, yeah. I'd rather have that." And you'd be like, "Well, are you crazy?" Yeah. So anyway, but you understand I mean?

Julie Morgan:                     Oh, absolutely.

                                                Right. Yeah.  Oh yeah, absolutely. Okay. So of the other questions, let's talk about permanent alimony. What is that?

Heather Quick:                  Permanent alimony is an award of alimony until one of you dies or you remarry. If you remarry, then you do not continue to get permanent alimony because permanent alimony is meant to financially meet your needs based on such a long marriage and you relied upon that to support yourself.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. What if the person dies and... Okay, I'm obviously not going to be getting this money, do I get his insurance policy?

Heather Quick:                  That needs to be negotiated, that is not definite. We do request life insurance to secure permanent alimony. There's a different law in that, it's not really required because they're like, "He is dead. What right does he have... What obligation does he have to support you if he's dead?" But if life insurance is available, then we do work hard to make that happen so that you're not left with nothing if he passes away, because that could be devastating. If the husband is not insurable or it's cost-prohibitive, then that's just the reality of it. 

                                                There are a lot of risks, there's downsides to permanent alimony for sure. That being one of them. If they're not insurable and it's looking at, well, is there another way to achieve that? You really are financially tied to this person forever. You can't get remarried again and still receive the alimony. There are also laws about cohabitation, that's how women would get around it for a long time and still receive the alimony. But I think it serves its purpose in the law. In a lot of cases, it is absolutely appropriate, whether or not the other side likes it, it's absolutely appropriate.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. I have a thought, this may sound bad, but what if the wife knows something about the husband and she says, "He is not going to live that much longer. I need a payout now as opposed to the permanent." Seems like that's something they should disclose to you ahead of time, because it seems like something-

Heather Quick:                  Absolutely. Oh my gosh. Or frankly Julie, that they're in love with somebody else and they can't wait to get married. Do not spend all this money in attorney's fees on us trying to get you an award of permanent alimony if those are your intentions, which I have no judgment on. I just don't want to get you something that basically has no value. Let's work towards what benefits you more.  Absolutely, yeah, it’s more worthwhile to tell your attorney. Absolutely. Something like that because we are working on a strategy and we're trying to achieve certain goals. You need to understand, hey, if you do this with this person, that's going to remove your alimony. Therefore, tell your attorney that before we spend all this time to get it.

Julie Morgan:                     And you know what, I was thinking about that. Help them understand that your conversation with them, this is a safe place. So please disclose.

Heather Quick:                  Exactly. I am not here to judge, to tell you not to do it. Now I will if you come to me a year after we went to trial and got you permanent alimony to say, "I'm in love, I have to get married." I have had that conversation, "Really? Can't you just get some more money out of him for a couple more years?" That's not very nice because they want to move on with their life, and that's great. But yes, it's like let's have a conversation so we're on the same page, that what we're achieving is really what you want and fits with your view of your future.

Julie Morgan:                     Permanent alimony. Usually this is, as you mentioned, having to do one, with the length of the marriage, mostly a long-term marriage and also whether or not the person, the woman, can return to the workforce or go into the workforce at all.

Heather Quick:                  Even so, we talked about that, you can still get permanent alimony and work., maybe you work part-time, maybe you're just not going to make enough to meet all your needs financially.

Julie Morgan:                     Okay. That's interesting because I was thinking, okay, once you get a job that's it.

Heather Quick:                  No. It may lessen your need and that may be a reason to go back later for the husband to reduce it. But no. It may be that there's still a gap in what you make and what they make in your needs. You may have a gap financially if your husband doesn't have the ability to pay because it doesn't qualify but if he makes more than you do. Permanent alimony, I know in that earlier example, I was saying $5,000 a month. I mean, it could be $1,000 a month, but that $1,000 a month really fills in that gap that you need. Now, more likely, it's going to be more because you need more money than that. 

Julie Morgan:                     And what if the wife has special needs? Needs, medical care, that type of thing.

Heather Quick:                  Absolutely, that can be a big issue. That they are unable to support themselves due to a medical issue or something like that. That may be a reason that permanent alimony is ordered over a different kind of alimony.

Julie Morgan:                     And sounds like that could happen no matter the length of the marriage.

Heather Quick:                  True. The length of the marriage then is a factor but then there are these other factors that certainly could be argued.

Julie Morgan:                     All right, so we've talked about modifications and how difficult it is for this to happen. So can the permanent alimony be modified or even terminated? We talked about how it can be terminated as far as if she remarries, but any other circumstances?

Heather Quick:                  Yeah, the law states, if you have a supportive relationship, which essentially is a romantic relationship that is also financial, but you're not legally married. Those cases are very fact-intensive but can be proven and you can terminate alimony if you can prove that that exists. Again, you don't live together anymore, especially if you guys are in different states, it's a little bit more difficult, but if you're doing that and you start to see a stranger poking around, he's probably hired a PI to try to prove that. I ask my clients to pay attention. The modification can be if their income goes down or due to retirement that happens a lot where you're going to see that modification filed when they're older.

Julie Morgan:                     Well, that makes sense. I understand them. Oh boy, so many other places I want to go, but we are out of time. Heather, anything else you'd like to add on this topic?

Heather Quick:                  No, that we just scratched the surface. It is, alimony is a really go great tool in the law, but there's so many ways it can go. That's where, like I always say as we close, talk to an attorney. Call us, let us walk through it with you because you don't know what you don't know.

Julie Morgan:                     Thank you for listening to Women Winning Divorce. We hope you found information to help you navigate your divorce. If you like our show, please take the time to subscribe and provide a five star review. If you need more information, please visit our website at womenwinningdivorce.com. Where you will find previous episodes and other helpful content. Join us next week as we continue our journey of Women Winning Divorce.