United States: Suggested AAML Alimony Guidelines; It Is Not The Law, But Is A Good Guide

Last Updated: November 13 2012

With assistance from Tyra Staltare, Paralegal

Many dissolutions of marriage will include an alimony component. If yours does, then it is possible you will hear the term AAML (defined below) bandied about during your consultation. Under Florida law, alimony, unlike child support, is NOT pre-determined by a strict formula or chart; rather it must first be determined whether one party has a need for alimony and if so, whether the other party has the ability to pay alimony.

Again, determining the amount of a possible alimony award is not an exact science, but rather is an amount that is determined after the consideration of the parties' incomes and other factors (see below). Because of the many variables, as well as other differences that vary from state to state, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers ("AAML") created a formula to calculate a suggested amount of alimony. The AAML is a group of domestic relations attorneys who studied the support approaches in many jurisdictions. They found that virtually all jurisdictions considered the factors of income of the parties and the length of the marriage. Based upon these findings, they came up with a formula to calculate a suggested amount of alimony. The formula calculates 30% of the presumed payor's gross income minus 20% of the presumed payee's gross income. The formulaic amount should not exceed 40% of the parties' combined gross income. This formula only considers the incomes of the parties, not any of the additional factors listed below.

So, when you receive a print-out OR if the attorney you are consulting with provides you with a suggested amount of alimony per AAML, remember that this is just an approximation of the range for a possible award and NOT a final determined amount. The many factors, listed below, MUST also be considered in the calculation of alimony; however, during your initial consult or early in your case, those factors may not be totally flushed out in detail until later.

Above and beyond the need of one spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay, the additional factors that must be taken into consideration as to the amount of the alimony award, as set forth in Fla. Stat. §61.08, are as follows:

(a) The standard of living established during the marriage;

(b) The duration of the marriage;

(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party;

(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each;

(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment;

(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party;

(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common;

(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment;

(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party; and

(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

In summary, the definitive amount of alimony can be best calculated after your attorney has the requisite information that can only be obtained from a thorough review of the parties' incomes and expenses.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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