Introduction

Florida’s alimony law, Florida Statute §61.08, underwent a significant transformation on July 1, 2023, with the implementation of a revised alimony law. This law introduced changes that impact the way spousal support or alimony is determined, calculated, and awarded in divorce cases throughout the state. Most importantly, the new alimony law removed permanent periodic alimony. This article provides an in-depth look at the key aspects of Florida’s new alimony law, offering insights into its implications and how it may affect individuals involved in divorce proceedings. To see the new law in its entirety, click HERE.

Four Key Changes

  1. Elimination of Periodic Permanent Alimony: The new law removed a long-term spouse’s ability to receive permanent periodic alimony. For long term marriages, previously, spouses were entitled to alimony on a permanent and indefinite basis. Under the new law, alimony for long term marriages is now restricted to 75% of the duration of the marriage. This means for spouses married for 40 years, the longest term of durational alimony would be (75% of 40) 30 years.
  2. Presumptive Alimony Guidelines: Perhaps the most significant change introduced by the new law is the implementation of presumptive guidelines. These guidelines provide a formula for calculating alimony based on the duration of the marriage and the income of both spouses. This formula helps to standardize awards, making the process more predictable and consistent.
  3. Alimony Duration: The intent behind the imposition of duration limits for different types of marriages was to ensure that alimony payments are proportionate to the length of the marriage, reducing the potential for prolonged financial support. The law outlines specific durational limits for different types of marriages. For short-term marriages (less than 10 years), alimony is generally limited to 50% of the length of the marriage. For moderate-term marriages (10 to 20 years), alimony is limited to 60% of the marriage’s duration. For long-term marriages (over 20 years), alimony is limited to 75% of the marriage’s duration.
  4. Consideration of Marital Misconduct: The new law moves away from considering marital misconduct when determining alimony awards. Factors such as adultery and wasteful spending in the breakdown of the marriage are no longer taken into account. This shift towards a clearer no-fault approach promotes a more objective and fair evaluation of each case.

Three Types of Alimony Now Available (as of 2023)

  1. Bridge the Gap Alimony – Bridge-the-gap alimony is to assist a spouse in making the transition from being married to being single. There must be legitimate identifiable short-term needs. The length of the alimony is for up to 2 years. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the recipient.
  2. Rehabilitative Alimony – Rehabilitative alimony is to assist a party in establishing their own self-support. It can be used to redevelop previous skills or credentials or to acquire education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. In order to award rehabilitative alimony, you must have a specific and defined rehabilitative plan. The length of an award of rehabilitative alimony may not exceed 5 years.
  3. Durational Alimony – The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with financial support for a specific period. The amount is the lesser of the amount determined to be the recipient’s reasonable need or an amount not to exceed 35 percent of the difference between the parties’ net incomes. Durational alimony may not be awarded for a marriage lasting less than 3 years.

Examples

  • If parties to a marriage get divorced a year after marrying, a spouse would only be entitled to bridge the gap or rehabilitative alimony. Under bridge the gap alimony, a spouse may use the bridge the gap to assist with moving costs and/or deposits for first, last, and security for a new lease. Under rehabilitative alimony, a spouse would be able to request support to assist with recertification of specific business/work licenses or to obtain training in a new field.
  • If parties to a marriage get divorced after twelve (12) years, a spouse would be entitled to receive durational alimony. Under the new law, for a moderate term marriage, a spouse would be able to receive durational alimony for a term no longer than (60% of 12 years) 7 years, 2 months. For the amount, this amount would be limited to no more than the reasonable need of the recipient spouse or 35% of the difference of the parties’ net income. If the paying spouse receives $3,000 net income per month, and the receiving spouse receives $2,000 per month, the alimony would be limited to $350.00 per month if this amount was less than the receiving spouse’s reasonable need.
  • If  parties to a marriage get divorced after twenty-four (24) years, a spouse would be entitled to receive durational alimony. Under the new law, for a moderate term marriage, a spouse would be able to receive durational alimony for a term no longer than (75% of 24 years) 18 years. For the amount, this amount would be limited to no more than the reasonable need of the recipient spouse or 35% of the difference of the parties’ net income. If the paying spouse receives $7,200 net income per month, and the receiving spouse receives $2,500 per month, the alimony would be limited to $1,645.00 per month if this amount was less than the receiving spouse’s reasonable need.

Conclusion

Florida’s new alimony law, which went into effect on July 1, 2023, brings several important changes to the state’s approach to spousal support in divorce cases. The introduction of presumptive guidelines, the removal of considerations of marital misconduct, and the establishment of durational limits all contribute to a more predictable system. While these changes may require adjustments for individuals navigating divorce proceedings, they ultimately aim to create a fair and balanced approach to alimony in the state of Florida. It is essential for those involved in divorce cases to consult with legal professionals who are well-versed in the new law to ensure they understand their rights and obligations under these revised regulations.

Related Articles