During the pendency of a divorce proceeding, the Court can order one spouse to provide temporary support and attorney’s fees to the other spouse where there is a disparity in the parties’ income and assets. In awarding interim support, the Court will consider whether one spouse has a greater “need” for support and whether the other spouse has a greater “ability to pay” such support.
Need for Interim Support
In determining whether one spouse has a “need” for interim support, the Court will analyze the requesting party’s liquid assets, such as funds in a checking or savings account. If the requesting spouse has sufficient liquid assets with which to support himself or herself during the divorce proceedings, temporary support will be denied. Grace v. Grace, 162 So. 2d 314 (Fla. 1st DCA 1964).
The “wage-earning ability” of the requesting spouse will also be considered in determining whether or not there is a need for support. In cases in which the requesting spouse has wage-earning skills that have not diminished during the marriage, the Court may consider whether it would be appropriate to require the requesting spouse to work during the pendency of the action – even if he or she did not work during the marriage. Belcher v. Belcher, 271 So. 2d 7, 11-12 (Fla. 1972). The Court will also analyze factors such as the requesting spouse’s work history and educational background in order to determine his or her current wage-earning capacity.
In the event that the requesting spouse does not have sufficient income and assets with which to support himself or herself, the Court may find the requesting spouse has a “need” for interim support. The Court must, however, consider the other spouse’s “ability to pay” such support prior to entering an award for same.
Ability to Pay Interim Support
The party seeking temporary support has the burden to plead and prove that the supporting spouse has the financial ability to provide interim support throughout the divorce proceeding. The Court may find that the supporting spouse has the ability to pay interim support where the supporting spouse has substantially greater income and liquid assets than the requesting spouse. The supporting spouse’s financial responsibilities, such as the duty to support dependents, will also be considered in an action for temporary support.
If the Court finds that the requesting spouse has a need for interim support, and that the supporting spouse has an ability to pay interim support, the Court may then make findings as to the amount of the award. In doing so, the Court will consider the standard of living that the parties became accustomed to during the marriage and whether the supporting spouse has the ability to maintain that standard of living throughout the divorce proceedings. If the supporting spouse does not have the ability to maintain the standard of living that the parties became accustomed to during the marriage, the interim support award will be commensurate with the requesting party’s needs where possible.