What’s the Difference Between Alimony and Spousal Support?

Is there a difference between alimony and spousal support?

The short answer is both have identical meanings and can be used to describe the payments by a spouse to the other after a divorce. 

In short, alimony and spousal support are payments that are meant to alleviate the financial burdens of the dependent spouse following a divorce. 

It’s important to understand what each term means and in this blog post we’re going to dig a little deeper.

What is alimony?

Alimony is the payment for support and maintenance of a dependent spouse either on a consistent basis or a lump sum. 

When we say “dependent spouse,” we’re referencing the spouse who makes less money than the other. Whether husband or wife, the dependent spouse is substantially dependent on the other for support.

The actual amount of alimony varies based on the situation and what’s deemed necessary by the court. 

It’s worth noting that alimony is taxable to the dependent spouse and is tax-deductible to the supporting spouse. 

Generally speaking, alimony is the area of family law that requires the most litigation. 

Are there different types of alimony in Florida?

Yes, there are different types of alimony in Florida. Below is a quick overview of the most common types of alimony in the Sunshine State.

Bridge-the-gap – This type of alimony is awarded for a short, specific time frame to “bridge-the-gap” and help the dependent spouse while he/she transitions from married to single life. This type of alimony agreement doesn’t exceed two years and can’t be modified. 

Durational – This is a newer type of alimony in Florida and it’s meant to provide the dependent spouse with economic assistance for a specific period after a marriage that didn’t last long. This alimony agreement can be terminated if either spouse dies or the dependent spouse remarries. It can also be adjusted based on a substantial change in circumstances that can be proven to the court. 

Lump-sum – This payment can be paid at once or in installments to the dependent spouse. Typically, this type of alimony is awarded if the paying spouse is in poor health. 

Nominal – Small (nominal) amounts are paid on a permanent, periodic basis to the dependent spouse. Nominal alimony is ordered by the court to protect the rights of the dependent spouse when the supporting spouse’s ability to pay is either postponed or temporarily restricted. 

Rehabilitative – In this case, the dependent spouse will receive alimony while he/she works to support themselves on their own. Rehabilitative alimony requires the dependent spouse to create a “retraining plan” that essentially outlines his/her plan to get back on their feet.

Permanent – This type of alimony is awarded until either the dependent spouse remarries or the death of either spouse. It can always be tweaked and modified only if there’s proof of a considerable change in circumstances.

What is spousal support?

As mentioned before, alimony and spousal support are interchangeable terms. Spousal support can be made from wife to husband and vice versa. The spouse with the better financial situation will be the one who provides spousal support to the other. The length of time and amount paid is decided by the court. 


If you have questions about Florida alimony or spousal support laws, contact us today.