For many years in Florida, there have been extended debates over alimony and the laws surrounding it. Some wanted these laws changed so those who are paying are not doing so longer than what many consider “fair.” Others felt the proposed changes placed too much of a burden on the receiving party.
In mid-2023, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law an overhaul of the state’s system for determining alimony. Still, despite the rampant coverage the changes received, people who recently began considering divorce or are in the early stages of a case might not have realized how the new law might affect them. Knowing what the new laws do is imperative to be fully ready for what they will face.
Permanent alimony has been eliminated
In the past, people could receive permanent alimony. That is no longer the case. All alimony is now considered temporary. Judges can also end alimony once they have assessed the paying party – the obligor – and their age, health and when they were planning to retire. The ramifications the receiving party will face if the alimony is reduced will also be weighed.
In addition, it changes how rehabilitative alimony is awarded. Rehabilitative alimony is designed to give a person time to accrue the necessary skills, education and training to support themselves so they will not need alimony. This is limited to five years. When there is a substantial change in circumstances, if the person getting alimony does not comply with a plan to end the need for alimony, or the completion of the plan, the award can be modified or ended completely.
When durational alimony is awarded, it means that there is a specified end date. It will not be awarded if the marriage is shorter than three years. It also has certain conditions depending on the length of the marriage.
The state considers a short-term marriage to be one of less than 10 years. A moderate-term marriage will be between 10 and 20 years. A long-term marriage is 20 or more years. When durational alimony is given, it cannot go beyond half the time-frame of the short-term marriage, 60% of the moderate-term marriage and 75% of the long-term marriage.
Alimony can be a contentious part of a divorce
During a divorce, finances will frequently be a topic for dispute. With the new laws in effect, it is even more contentious as people are worried about the future and how they will make ends meet depending on the court’s determination. Given the stakes in this area of family law, it is essential to gather evidence and be ready for the case. Knowing how the law works and what types of alimony is available is the first step.