What Are Florida’s Alimony Laws in 2023?
Divorce can be a stressful time for Florida couples. From property division to child custody and visitation, resolving family law disputes can take a heavy emotional toll on families in the Sunshine State. In addition to the complexities of property and asset distribution, alimony (also known as spousal support) can be another significant obstacle for spouses to overcome in Florida courts, making it all the more important for divorcing couples to stay up-to-date on current state laws.
In this blog, we’ll review the vital changes to Florida’s alimony laws in 2023 to help keep families and couples informed and prepared for whatever lies ahead.
5 Changes Resulting from Florida’s New Alimony Law
Alimony, commonly referred to as spousal support and spousal maintenance in some states, is designed to provide financial assistance to an economically dependent spouse following a divorce. The primary purpose of alimony is to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage while allowing for a transition to financial independence.
Florida’s alimony laws underwent substantial changes in 2023. The new alimony reform bill took effect after Governor DeSantis signed Senate Bill (SB) 1416 in March 2023, finalizing a long-term legislative effort to reform Florida alimony in recent years.
Below are five major impacts of the new alimony law for Florida families to keep in mind:
1.) The new alimony law ended permanent alimony in Florida.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that the new alimony bill ended permanent alimony in the state. As you can imagine, this can have a far-reaching impact on certain couples and families in Florida.
2.) There are now only three types of alimony available in Florida.
Prior to the enactment of SB 1416, there were four types of alimony available in Florida family courts, including permanent alimony. However, with permanent alimony eliminated under the new alimony law, there are now only three types of alimony available in family courts, including:
- Durational Alimony – Durational alimony is awarded to provide economic assistance for a set duration, which cannot exceed the length of the marriage. This type of alimony can't be awarded to couples married for less than three years. Currently, durational alimony is capped at three years in Florida.
- Rehabilitative Alimony – Rehabilitative alimony is designed to help the recipient spouse become self-supporting by providing the resources needed to pursue education, vocational training, or other career advancement opportunities. In 2023, the maximum duration for rehabilitative alimony is five years in Florida.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – This type of alimony aims to assist a party by meeting their short-term financial needs. It’s typically awarded to address specific identifiable short-term needs of one spouse during the transitionary period following a divorce. Following the enactment of Florida’s new alimony law, bridge-the-gap alimony is capped at two years in Florida.
3.) Florida courts can consider various factors to determine alimony.
When determining alimony in 2023, family courts can take a wide range of influencing factors into account in Florida, such as:
- The marriage length
- The age and health of each spouse
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
- The obligee’s specific need for financial assistance
- Each spouse’s financial contributions to the marriage
- Each spouse’s earnings, employability, and education
- Each spouse’s custodial rights and childcare responsibilities
Keep in mind that this list isn’t comprehensive, as Florida courts can assess various elements to determine alimony depending on the couple’s unique circumstances.
4.) Marriage duration is typically the primary factor used to calculate alimony.
Marriage duration is a very important factor when it comes to calculating alimony in Florida. Under the new alimony law, marriages are typically classified as follows:
- Short-term marriages: 10 years or less
- Moderate-term marriages: 10-20 years
- Long-term marriages: 20 years or more
Depending on the marriage duration, durational alimony can be awarded for a specified amount of time in Florida divorces. Generally, alimony payments will endure for:
- 50% of the length of short-term marriages;
- 60% of the length of moderate-length marriages; and
- 75% of the length of long-term marriages.
Keep in mind that these percentages and amounts are not set in stone. It’s essential to consult with a trusted Florida divorce attorney who can guide your steps wisely and take the unique dynamics of your case into account before making any major legal decisions.
5.) Courts reserve the right to terminate or reduce alimony.
In the event that a “supportive relationship” or cohabitation is determined to exist between spouses, Florida courts reserve the right to terminate or reduce the couple’s alimony payments. In these cases, the “obligor” (the paying party) is responsible for proving the existence of the supportive relationship. If the obligor succeeds, the obligee can dispute it by showing by a preponderance of evidence that the alimony shouldn’t be modified or terminated.
Additionally, Florida family courts also have the right to terminate or reduce alimony upon "reasonable retirement." Obligors have the right to apply for alimony modifications no sooner than six months before their intended retirement. Then, the court will likely take a variety of factors into account to make their final decision regarding alimony amount and duration.
Contact a Trusted Orlando Divorce Attorney
At The Law Office of Paulette Hamilton, P.A., our compassionate family lawyers are dedicated to providing high-quality representation to couples and families in dire times of need. From navigating the complexities of a contentious Florida divorce to fighting for the custodial rights of your child, our firm has the in-depth legal knowledge and diverse skillset to guide you and your loved ones with honesty and integrity from start to finish.
If you’re preparing for a Florida divorce, you don’t have to navigate family court alone. Call (407) 624-5344 to request a free consultation with our skilled family lawyer.