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Understanding Florida’s new option for alimony

On Behalf of | May 4, 2024 | Divorce

If you didn’t seriously believe that divorce was in your future until recently, you may not have paid much attention to the attempts (and failures) by Florida lawmakers to change the state’s options for alimony over the years. Specifically, many wanted to end permanent alimony.

That particular battle was won last year when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that prohibits permanent alimony for divorces going forward. Those already paying or receiving permanent alimony won’t be affected unless they have a modifiable support agreement and one or both parties seeks to change it. If a payor wants to change a non-modifiable permanent support agreement, they need to make their case to the court.

A new option for alimony has also been added. It’s called durational alimony. It’s available when a couple’s marriage lasted at least three years. The length (duration) of the alimony depends in part on the length of the marriage – although there are maximums.

How is durational alimony determined?

Under the law, marriages are classified as short-term, moderate-term and long-term. The duration of the alimony is generally set at 50%, 60% and 75%, respectively of the length of the marriage based on which of these three categories it falls into. It can be extended if a receiving party shows good cause.

Of course, other factors, like each party’s individual income and assets, earning potential, health and age as well as the marital standard of living can also be considered when a court determines the length and amount of alimony. The law also specifies that durational alimony can’t exceed “35 percent of the difference between the parties’ net incomes, whichever amount is less.” 

The other types of alimony — rehabilitative and bridge-the-gap – remain in place as options. They haven’t been changed.

Certainly, a divorcing couple may be able to negotiate their own support agreement. However, it still needs to be approved by a judge, so it has to be fair to both parties. Understanding the current alimony law can help couples reach a mutually agreeable support arrangement. Having experienced legal guidance is critical to protecting your rights and working within the law.