If it feels like Florida politicians have been arguing about alimony for years, it is because they have. Debates over ending permanent alimony have continued over numerous legislative sessions as well as the tenures of multiple governors.
This summer, Gov. Ron DeSantis finally signed into law a bill that no longer allows permanent alimony as an option in spousal support agreements that are signed after July 1 of this year. Gov. DeSantis had vetoed an earlier version of the legislation because it would have made the law retroactive. That means it would have been applicable to any Florida spousal support agreement that included permanent alimony that was currently in place.
Since the new law isn’t retroactive, any non-modifiable agreement that’s already in place and orders permanent alimony is secure. But, if your agreement allows for modification, the person who was ordered to pay the alimony may go to court to seek a change to the terms.
How are the length and amount of durational alimony determined?
The new law keeps rehabilitative and bridge-the-gap alimony in place as options that judges can order to help divorcing spouses obtain financial support until they can be reasonably expected to support themselves. While it removes the option of permanent alimony, it adds a new option called durational alimony.
This is another form of temporary support that features specific limitations on who can receive it, how much they can receive and for how long. For example, for a spouse to seek durational alimony, their marriage must have lasted a minimum of three years. Further, the length of time for which durational alimony is ordered depends in part on the length of the marriage but cannot 75% of the length of the marriage. It terminates if the receiving spouse remarries.
As with all types of alimony, consideration is also given to both spouses’ age, health, obligations and more. The law does stipulate that durational alimony is “the amount determined to be the obligee’s reasonable need, or an amount not to exceed 35 percent of the difference between the parties’ net incomes, whichever amount is less.”
Whether you’re on the paying or receiving end of alimony, it’s important to fully understand the law and your rights and options under it. That’s just one advantage of having experienced legal guidance throughout the divorce process and in the aftermath of divorce when modifications to existing orders may be warranted and/or necessary.