Untying the Knot: Florida Ends Permanent Alimony

The Florida legislature recently revamped Florida’s alimony statute, Section 61.08. The measure (SB 1416) includes sweeping changes to alimony, such as the elimination of permanent alimony payments in favor of a formula-based system that establishes the maximum length of time alimony can be paid and caps the amount of alimony. The bill also establishes new rules about retirement as well as tax consequences, which will be discussed in future editions of Horowitz Highlights.

Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is awarded in a divorce when one spouse can show they have materially depended on the other and will continue to need financial support for some period of time. Under the new law, divorced couples do not have to remain eternally tied together financially.

While Florida’s new alimony law does keep permanent alimony in place if awarded prior to July 1, 2023, it eliminates it going forward while also setting forth new parameters for the type, amount, and duration of the remaining forms of alimony.

People married for less than three years will not be eligible for alimony payments, and those who have been married 20 years or longer will be eligible to receive payments for up to 75 percent of the term of the marriage.

For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 10 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration between 10 and 20 years, and a long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 20 years or longer.

Spousal support is not going away but the end of permanent alimony leaves four types remaining:

  1. Temporary is paid while the divorce case is pending and is intended to provide financial assistance to a spouse until the final divorce settlement is reached;
  2. Bridge-the-gap is a short-term payment solution that cannot exceed two years and aims to help a party transition to a single income lifestyle;
  3. Rehabilitative alimony supports the recipient with training, education, and other efforts to be self-sufficient; and,
  4. Durational pays alimony for a set period of time that cannot typically exceed the length of the marriage.

The new law establishes presumptions, not absolutes. At most steps in alimony analysis, the parties have an opportunity to convince the court why application of these presumptions would be unfair or inequitable. With the alimony reform law, courts will now be allowed to review evidence of adultery when making decisions on spousal support.

The alimony statute also includes the possibility of lump-sum payments and places the burden of proof to the person seeking support to prove they need it. Judges can reduce or terminate alimony, support or maintenance payments after considering a number of factors.

For Florida residents experiencing divorce, Sara Horowitz PA can help navigate the alimony law process and protect your rights. As an attorney trained in collaborative divorce, I can assist with a smooth and seamless transition from separation through divorce. If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, you should be aware of how the new statute will affect your case and its impacts on you, whether you are a potential payor or recipient.

At every step, Sara Horowitz PA will discuss the new alimony provisions to ensure you have a clear understanding of your rights and obligations. Email me at sara@horowitzlawpa.com or call 954-300-1602 for a complimentary consultation.  You are also welcome to fill out this form.