Alimony Changes In Florida In 2023
If you are divorcing in Florida and have a need or expectation of receiving alimony, it is important to understand the details of the recent changes to the alimony statutes in Florida. We mentioned last month that these changes were coming, and on July 1, 2023 the new Florida “alimony reform bill” became law after being signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on June 30, 2023.
This bill will provide a much more specific framework from which judges can work when evaluating every alimony case. The new law will apply to all petitions for dissolution of marriage that are filed or pending on July 1, 2023, and to certain supplemental petitions for modification of alimony.
The bill is quite comprehensive, but there are some initial and important changes to consider. First, the bill abolishes permanent alimony and replaces it with four other types of alimony. Those types of alimony will be known as temporary alimony, rehabilitative alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony and durational alimony. When awarding alimony, a judge has discretion to award alimony as a lump sum payment or a regular monthly payment. Keep in mind, alimony is no longer taxable to the recipient and no longer tax deductible to the payer.
The bill also allows a judge to receive evidence and consider the infidelity of either spouse and any financial impact on the parties when the court makes a decision regarding an alimony award and the amount to award in each case. The judge is also limited or constrained by the other parameters in the bill, some of which are delineated herein.
The bill provides for certain factors that the judge must consider in each case where alimony is at issue. Generally speaking, the court begins with a need vs. ability analysis, and then the court considers other factors such as the parties’ standard of living, the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, contributions or sacrifices made to the marriage or other spouse, and similar factors. These will be discussed in greater detail in our next article on this new bill.
In addition to the foregoing, this new bill changed the definition of short term and long term marriages, i.e., a short term marriage is one lasting less than ten years, a moderate term marriage is one between ten and twenty years, and a long term marriage is one that lasts twenty years or more. This time is measured from the date of marriage to the date of filing.
The alternative forms of alimony are meant to address circumstances where there is a financial need in a marriage by one spouse, but for which permanent alimony would not be the answer. The alternate forms of alimony have parameters which guide the court as to the amount of the award, the length of the award, the requirements in order to receive the award, etc. No matter the award, a spouse cannot be left in a financially destitute position.
Another change in the alimony statute is that alimony can now be terminated when the paying spouse reaches normal legal retirement age, which is generally defined by the Social Security Administration. Alternatively, if the paying spouse is in a profession where the customary retirement age is less than the regular retirement age, the court can consider this. Either way, the paying spouse must attempt to retire or retire and it must reduce the ability to pay.
There are many aspects of this bill which need to be digested by divorcing parties and the legal community. There are other things to discuss as well, such as the impact of cohabitation on alimony. . . more to come.
Contact a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney
If you are about to get a divorce in Florida and are looking for a qualified and experienced attorney to hire, look no further than our Jacksonville divorce lawyers at The Lasky Law Firm.