An Experienced Attorney Keeping Up With Florida’s Changing Alimony Laws

Alimony has historically been a hot-button issue in divorce. It keeps two people financially tied to one another long after other aspects of their relationship have been severed. The issue is especially sensitive in Florida, where the alimony system has been criticized as out of date and out of step with the rest of the country.

Recently, after years of consideration, discussion and debate, Florida lawmakers have enacted sweeping changes to the state’s alimony laws. If you’re going through a divorce in northern Florida that is likely to involve alimony, you’ll hopefully find the information on this page to be helpful. After reading, you can contact the Law Offices of J. Anthony Franco, PLLC, to discuss your legal options during an initial consultation.

Four Types Of Alimony Available In Florida

Rather than making alimony open-ended and undefined, judges and state laws generally call for alimony awards to be purpose-driven and finite. The four available types of alimony in Florida include:

Temporary alimony – If they can demonstrate financial need, the lower-earning spouse can request temporary alimony. It is paid during the divorce process to allow both spouses to stay financially solvent during divorce and to cover necessary legal and personal expenses. It ends when the divorce is finalized and may or may not be replaced by a different type of alimony.

Rehabilitative alimony – The lower-earning spouse may be granted rehabilitative alimony, which pays for the educational or career training opportunities that would help them become financially independent. Such alimony cannot last longer than five years, and the requesting spouse must create a detailed plan for how the money will be used.

Bridge-the-gap alimony – Divorce can lead to temporary financial destabilization. It often takes some time to regain stability and wrap up divorce-related transitions like selling the marital residence. Bridge-the-gap alimony is meant to support the lesser-earning spouse through this transitional period for up to two years after the divorce.

The alimony options above may be paid in installments over time or paid as a lump sum, depending on the details of a given case. The fourth option is durational alimony, which is explained in more detail below.

Legal Reforms End Permanent Alimony And Clarify Limits On Durational Alimony

Until mid-2023, Florida law allowed for permanent alimony, which in some cases meant paying/receiving alimony for the rest of a person’s life. It was commonly awarded in cases where couples had divorced after marriages of 17 years or longer.

A law enacted in July 2023 no longer recognizes permanent alimony as an option. Instead, the lesser-earning spouse may be awarded durational alimony, the length of which is determined by the length of the marriage.

Here are the options under the new law:

  • For short-term marriages (less than 10 years): Alimony duration cannot exceed 50% of the marriage’s length, or no more than five years maximum.
  • For moderate-term marriages (10-20 years): Alimony duration cannot exceed 60% of the marriage’s length, or no more than 12 years maximum.
  • For long-term marriages (20 years or more): Alimony duration cannot exceed 75% of the marriage’s length.

The law allows courts to award alimony for longer than the durations prescribed in each case, but only under “exceptional circumstances.” As for the amount of durational alimony to be paid, the new law also sets some limitations. The lesser-earning spouse is supposed to receive an amount based on their “reasonable need,” but that amount cannot exceed 35% of the difference between the two spouses’ net incomes.

The Importance Of Working With A Knowledgeable Attorney

To protect your financial interests (either as a payer or receiver of alimony), it’s critical to seek the help of a knowledgeable attorney who has kept up to date on these changes and can help you understand and exercise all your available legal options. Mr. Franco is one such attorney. He will skillfully advocate for you in every aspect of your case, from the initial determination of alimony to any future modifications.

If you pay alimony, for instance, attorney Franco can help you utilize new changes in the law to seek a modification in amount or duration or to terminate the award entirely. The legal changes more clearly define what retirement age is or should be and also make it easier to modify or terminate alimony when the paying spouse retires or in cases where the receiving spouse enters into a financially supportive relationship with someone else.

Get Answers To Your Questions During An Initial Consultation

It’s perfectly understandable to have many questions about changes in Florida alimony laws and how or whether alimony will be a factor in your divorce. A great way to get case-specific answers and advice is to schedule a consultation with attorney J. Anthony Franco. To get started, call his Tampa office at 813-608-4024 or submit an online contact form.