The Kruse v. Levesque Appeal: a Florida Court Awards Permanent Alimony After an 11-Year Marriage

Alan R. Burton Attorney at Law

Of Florida’s six types of alimony, permanent alimony is probably the one that gets the most publicity and inspires the longest legal battles. Florida is one of only a few states where a court can require a divorced person to make monthly alimony payments to his or her former spouse indefinitely. Usually, courts only award permanent alimony when the couple was married for 17 years or more. That is a long enough time for the supported spouse to assume that the couple’s financial situation is permanent. After marriages of such length, it is also likely that the spouses are close to retirement age and may have health problems associated with age.

Courts also sometimes award permanent alimony after a long marriage when the supported spouse is young enough to have a career ahead of her. Kimberly Dickson successfully argued before an appeals court that, because of the 20 years she had spent as a stay-at-home parent, her earning potential was considerably less than if she and her former husband had not agreed that she should stay home for all those years. In other words, courts take into account a spouse’s contributions to a marriage that are not in the form of currency and other material assets. Kruse v. Levesque is another case where an appeal court awarded permanent alimony to a woman in her 40s; in this case, the marriage had lasted only 11 years, and the court ruled that permanent alimony was appropriate because of the wife’s disability.

Details of the Kruse v. Levesque Case

Jennifer Kruse and Martin Levesque were married from 2002 until 2012; they were in their 40s at the time of the divorce. Martin had a lucrative job in the computer industry throughout their marriage. Jennifer worked as a psychologist until 2007, when health problems made it necessary for her to quit working; she received disability payments after that.

The court followed the standard procedure in determining alimony. First, it determined that Jennifer was in need of spousal support and that Martin was able to pay it. Next, it determined what kind of alimony to award. It ruled out bridge the gap alimony because that is only for temporary, divorce-related expenses, and rehabilitative alimony because that is for preparing to reenter the workforce, which Jennifer’s disability prevented her from doing. Instead, the trial court awarded durational alimony, a series of monthly payments with a pre-set end date.  Durational alimony is the standard in medium-term marriages. Jennifer appealed the ruling, arguing that permanent alimony was the most appropriate type because her need was ongoing.  She had no other way of bringing in an income besides her disability payments, which did not cover all her expenses. The appeals court ruled in her favor.

Contact Alan Burton About Alimony Cases

With six types of alimony recognized in Florida, there is plenty of room for discussion and disagreement. Contact Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton, Florida for another opinion on your alimony arrangement.

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