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Florida Alimony Reform 2023

Changes to Florida Alimony Laws

As of July 1, 2023, Florida’s alimony laws changed, which may have an important impact on your case.  These changes apply to all cases pending on July 1, 2023. 

Length of marriage

The first change is to the length of marriages:

  • “Short-term” marriage has been modified from a 7 year duration to 10 years of duration;
  • “Moderate-term” marriage has been modified from 7-17 years to between 10-20 years of duration;
  • “Long-term marriage” is modified from 17 years or longer to 20 years or longer.

 

Types of alimony

The biggest change, and the change that you are probably the most familiar with, is the elimination of permanent alimony.  However, there are other changes establishing the length and calculation of alimony that are equally as important. 

  1. Temporary alimony has now been expressly recognized as a form of alimony in the statute.
  2. Bridge-the-gap alimony still remains available for up to 2 years to assist a party with short term support to transition from married life to single life.
  3. Rehabilitative alimony is available for up to 5 years to assist a party in obtaining education or training to enable them to find employment.
  4. Lump sum alimony is still obtainable as a form of support.
  5. Durational alimony provides assistance to a party for a specific amount of time.

 

It’s important to keep in mind that the Court can combine any of these types of alimony. 

 

How long is durational alimony?

For durational alimony, the amount of time specified is based on the length of marriage, defined by the date of marriage and the date of filing the petition for dissolution of marriage.   

  1. For “short-term” marriages, the duration of any award cannot exceed 50% of the length of the marriage.
  2. For “moderate-term” marriages, the duration of any award cannot exceed 60% of the length of marriage.
  3. For “long-term” marriages, the duration of any award cannot exceed 75% of the length of marriage. Furthermore, durational alimony cannot be awarded following a marriage lasting less than 3 years. 

 

Can durational alimony be extended?

Durational alimony can be extended but it’s very difficult to do so.  The Court may only extend durational alimony under exceptional circumstances by a showing of clear and convincing evidence that extension is necessary after the Court reviews several statutory factors.  Examples of this would be a physical or mental disability of the former spouse, a disability of a child, or the inability to support oneself. 

 

How much money is Durational Alimony?

Durational alimony awards are determined based on the spouse’s “reasonable need,” or an amount not to exceed 35% of the difference between the parties’ net incomes, which ever is less. 

Will life insurance be ordered by the judge to secure alimony?

It’s not unusual for a Court to order the payor of alimony to maintain a life insurance policy to secure the alimony.  However, under the new law, before the Court can force the payor to secure the alimony with life insurance, it must make specific written findings of special circumstances.  This means it’s difficult for the judge to order a party to secure alimony with life insurance. 

 

What happens when the payor retires?

The Court is authorized to terminate or reduce an alimony award when the payor has reached the normal retirement age, as defined by the Social Security Administration, or the customary retirement age for the payor’s profession.  The new law now allows the payor the right to petition the court to modify or terminate alimony six months prior to the actual retirement date, although the modification wouldn’t take place until the retirement date.  Note the payor must actually retire and the retirement must reduce the payor’s ability to pay.  The Court analyzes 10 factors in determining whether to reduce or terminate alimony based on retirement, including, but not limited to, the age and health of the payor, the type of work performed by the payor, the customary age of retirement in the payor’s profession, the likelihood that the payor will return to work, and the payor’s motivation for retiring. 

 

What if my ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship?

The new law allows for the modification of alimony if an ex-spouse has been in a “supportive relationship” (meaning cohabitates with another that is not a family member) the previous year. 

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