Florida’s alimony laws underwent a significant transformation with Governor Ron DeSantis’s approval of a bill. The new law, effective July 1, 2023, brought about changes, including the elimination of permanent alimony.
The new law affects couples currently undergoing a divorce as well as those who are already divorced.
Alimony, or spousal support, is financial assistance the courts require one ex-spouse to provide to the other after a divorce. Aimed at supporting children and assisting ex-wives, alimony has evolved with changing divorce trends.
Florida statutes previously recognized the following four types of alimony:
Bridge-the-gap – Short-term support for transitioning to single life
Rehabilitative – Support for gaining skills or credentials for employment
Durational – Payments for a specific period after a short or moderately long marriage
Permanent – Lifelong payments after a long-term marriage
The new law eliminates permanent alimony and makes changes to the other three types.
Florida’s alimony overhaul
Besides doing away with permanent alimony, the new law, CS/SB 1416, introduces lump-sum payments and shifts the burden of proof to the person seeking support. It allows modifications based on factors such as the age and health of the payer, retirement age, economic impact, adultery and existence of a supportive relationship.
The law redefines marriage lengths for durational alimony. Short-term marriages are those lasting less than 10 years, moderate-term are those lasting 10 to 20 years and long-term marriages are those lasting 20 years or more.
Rehabilitative alimony now has a 5-year limit. While rules regarding payments for Florida’s 879,000 children who receive child support remain mostly unchanged, the courts now consider moving within 50 miles to be a substantial and material change in circumstances.
The new law took effect on July 1, 2023 and will not retroactively affect non-modifiable agreements.