The Truth About Alimony in Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis recently passed a bill impacting the future of family law. Senate Bill 1416 facilitated a significant overhaul of alimony law and has been years in the making, but finally went into effect in July 2023. Most notably, the bill put an end to permanent alimony in Florida. Alimony isn’t completely gone, however, so it’s important to understand how it will potentially impact your divorce negotiations.

The Basics of Alimony

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other after a divorce. The hope is that the lower-earning spouse will be able to use the alimony funds to transition to self-sufficiency. The amount awarded depends on many factors, such as how long the couple was married, the earning capacity and contributions of each spouse, and the ability of the spouses to support themselves. 

Alimony After SB 1416

Previously in Florida, permanent alimony could be awarded to a spouse for an indefinite period of time in long term marriages. However, it would end after the receiving spouse entered a supportive relationship or the payee died. There were also some reasons that it could be modified. For example, it could be modified or ended once a payee retired or if the payee had a certain change in circumstances.

SB 1416 now limits alimony to a few basic types, all of which are meant to help the lower-earning spouse become self-sufficient. Below are the accepted types:

– Bridge-the-gap – Maxed out at two years, this type of alimony helps a spouse “bridge-the-gap” from married life to single life and covers basic short-term needs. Once awarded, it can’t be modified unless either spouse dies or the recipient remarries.

– Rehabilitative – This may help a spouse complete their education or vocational training to increase their earning potential and ends after five years.

– Durational – This type of alimony is set for a specified period of time and only applies to those married for at least three years. May not exceed 50% of a short term marriage (less than 10 years), 60% of a moderate term marriage (between 10 and 20 years), and 75% of long term marriages (longer than 20 years). The amount is determined to be the reasonable need, or an amount not to exceed 35% of the difference between the parties’ net incomes, whichever is less.

What This Means for Your Case

This law is going to have an impact on divorcing couples who have long term marriages where one spouse may, in the past, have qualified for permanent alimony. That spouse will no longer qualify for permanent alimony and instead will qualify for durational alimony. 

For payees who currently receive permanent alimony and are fearful that they may lose their permanent alimony when their ex-spouse files a motion to modify, this law did not change that possibility. I have always informed my clients that “permanent” alimony was not necessarily “permanent,” as there were ways around it. This law did not change that possibility. It is important to speak to an attorney if you are served with a petition seeking modification.

For those going through a divorce or an alimony modification, note SB 1416 has incorporated many changes to family law, and not just alimony. Going through a divorce is challenging enough, but depending on your circumstances, your position in negotiations may have changed. At Heather Bryan Law, P.A., we understand the importance of starting the next phase of your life on your own terms. If you have questions about SB 1416 or would like to discuss your case, call our office at (863) 825-5309 for a consultation.

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Heather Bryan Law, P.A.

Our firm has experience defending Floridians against all sorts of criminal charges. Additionally, we are well-equipped to handle emotionally charged family law matters and devastating personal injury cases.

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