In determining whether to award alimony, Florida courts are tasked with deciding whether one spouse has a need and the other spouse has the ability to pay. As one court stated, the objective is to insure that the alimony payment is “as fair as possible to both parties.” Vega v. Vega, 877 So.2d 882, 883 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004). To determine a party’s need for alimony, courts consider the requesting spouse’s earning ability, age, health, education, the duration of the marriage, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage and the value of the parties’ assets. Canakaris v. Canakaris, 382 So. 2d 1197, 1201-02 (Fla. 1980).
When deciding a spouse’s ability to pay alimony, net income is the relevant benchmark. Vega, 877 So. 2d at 883; see also, Lambertini v. Lambertini, 817 So. 2d 942, 93 (Fla. 3d DCA 1980). A trial court may, within its discretion, impute income to the payor spouse based on past earnings and the spouse’s earning potential. Warren v. Warren, 629 So. 2d 1079 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994), citing Bascuas v. Bascuas, 538 So. 2d 520 (Fla. 3d DCA 1989). It is improper for a trial court to impute income to the payor spouse based on gross income. Warren, 629 So. 2d at 1080. Instead, the court should base the alimony award on the payor’s spouse’s net disposable income by deducting expenses from gross receipts. Id., citing Wendroff v. Wendroff, 614 So.2d 590 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993).
Florida law requires the trial court to consider all sources of income available to either spouse in computing an award of alimony. Shrove v. Shrove, 724 So. 2d 679, 682 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999). In Shrove, the trial court found that the payor spouse’s income derived from bonuses was regular and continuous and should be included in the husband’s income for determining alimony payments. Id. On appeal, the Shrove court upheld the trial court’s ruling, noting that a spouse’s regular overtime pay is included when calculating support unless the court finds that the opportunity to earn overtime will not be available in the future. Id., citing Skipper v. Skipper, 654 So. 2d 1181, 1183 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995).