Published On: Fri, May 17th, 2013

Gone Tomorrow

By Michael H. Gora

Q:   I have just had a disturbing preliminary consultation with a divorce attorney.  My husband is a well known personal injury attorney who earns well over a million dollars a year.  We have been married for six years, and have two children.  I met my husband when I was working for his firm as a paralegal. We lived together for eight years before we married.  I am 37 years old and he is 52.  He had been married before, for 14 years and pays permanent alimony.

The attorney advised me that I probably would not be able to get permanent alimony, even though my husband and I had been together 14 years. We live in a three million dollar house, which is mortgaged to the hilt, and I drive a leased Porsche.  We have a forty foot fishing boat. We have no savings. I could not afford to continue to live the way we live now with out permanent alimony.  Was the attorney correct?

 A:   A six year marriage is considered a short marriage under Florida law. A short term marriage does not give you the right to expect the same lifestyle after the marriage that you enjoyed during the marriage. Under Florida law living together prior to marriage does not turn a short term marriage into what the courts call a “gray area marriage,” which might entitle you to permanent periodic alimony, or durational alimony for a set number of years. Therefore, it is not likely that a court could grant you any significant alimony.

You are a young woman, who has had experience as a paralegal.  A court might give you some “bridge the gap” short term support or, perhaps, a little longer term of rehabilitative alimony, to enable you to bring your skills up to speed and obtain employment.

You will be able to receive child support based on your husband’s income, although the court might include some projected income for you.  He will probably have to supply the children with health insurance and may have to provide life insurance.  If the children have been attending private school and summer camps, he might have to continue those extras as part of the children’s lifestyle.

The attorney you consulted with has done an excellent job of giving you advice that was correct and realistic.  It is better to begin the divorce process with realistic expectations than to have less experienced counsel build up false hopes which can never be achieved.

Your lifestyle will not be gone today but it will probably be gone tomorrow.

Michael H. Gora has been certified by the Board of Specialization and Education of The Florida Bar as a specialist in matrimonial law and is a partner with Shapiro Blasi Wasserman & Gora P.A. in Boca Raton.  Gora may be reached at 561-477-7800 and mhgora@sbwlawfirm.com.

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