In a recent temporary alimony appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal provided some wonderful lessons. It is always good to review some of the basics of law, and in the Coviello case, we can review some of those basics:
1. The Court has a high level of discretion when entering temporary relief orders and they are not likely to be overturned on appeal
2. The test for awarding alimony - temporary or permanent - is the need of one spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay
3. Evidence of need and ability must be presented at the hearing
4. Even in a marriage in which permanent alimony is unlikely, temporary alimony can and will be awarded while the case is pending.
Temporary alimony or temporary support cannot be waived in a prenuptial agreement, even today. That means you may want to reconsider leaving the marital home if you are likely to be the paying spouse. And if you are the receiving spouse, staying in the marital home may mean a higher temporary alimony award due to higher expenses. It is something to consider anyway.
Once the court enters a temporary alimony or temporary relief order, it is likely to live with that order until the final judgment is entered. That could be a matter of months, or even in some cases, years of paying temporary alimony. Sometimes the temporary alimony order diminishes the incentive of one spouse to move the case along, especially when the paying spouse has the ability, like Mr. Coviello, to meet all of the receiving spouse's needs. In a situtation like this, of course, the paying spouse is highly motivated to end the case quickly to avoid the continued payment of temporary alimony.
While the Coviellos provided a good legal review, the reality is that they had to get through many steps just to reach a temporary relief hearing. Since temporary relief is based on the incomes and expenses of the spouses, financial affidavits must be completed and filed. Evidence must be gathered as to need and ability. In most areas of Florida, a mediation session must occur before a temporary relief hearing can be scheduled.
When you represent yourself, it is common to just make an agreement on who pays what while the divorce case is pending. For most couples, this works fine. But you have to realize that without an order, the court has nothing to enforce if the paying spouse stops paying temporary relief payments. If that happens, you will have to file a motion for temporary relief and go through all of the steps to get to a temporary relief hearing and court-ordered temporary alimony or child support.