One of the most common issues in any Florida divorce is alimony, also referred to as “spousal support.” However, as of June 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that eliminates permanent alimony payments.
While it’s commonly assumed that alimony is a part of any Florida divorce, the new law means that the awarding of alimony, at least on a permanent basis, will no longer happen. However, the reality is that your divorce and the issues involved in it can unfold in many ways. That’s why it’s crucial to be ready and have the right people on your side to help you achieve the outcome you deserve.
What is the New Alimony Law in a Florida Divorce?
Traditionally, Florida law has recognized the need–in certain cases-for alimony payments to be made from one spouse to the other. When judges made decisions about alimony, two things were generally considered:
- One spouse requires financial support.
- The other spouse is capable of providing support.
Once these conditions were established, various types of alimony were awarded, such as:
- Temporary Alimony – Short-term support during the divorce process.
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – Temporary support to help the receiving spouse transition to single life.
- Rehabilitative Alimony – Support to help the receiving spouse acquire education or skills for employment.
- Durational Alimony – Support for a set period of time, typically for shorter marriages.
- Permanent Alimony – Ongoing support for a longer duration, usually in cases of lengthy marriages.
Florida SB 1416
With the passage of SB 1416, the law removes the permanent alimony option, and adds the following provisions to any alimony decision in a Florida divorce:
- The court can use adultery as a factor when deciding how much alimony should be given.
- The person asking for financial support or alimony needs to provide enough evidence to prove they deserve it.
- You can change a parenting plan or schedule even if the circumstances were expected.
- If the person responsible for paying alimony gets married or lives with a romantic partner, the court may lower or stop the payments.
- If the person responsible for paying alimony retires, the court can lower or stop the payments.
Even with the new law, every divorce is different. Thus, the kind of alimony you can get depends on your specific situation. Regardless of the type of alimony, the court will consider certain factors when deciding how much to award you.
How Do Florida Courts Decide Alimony?
Obviously, the decision to award alimony is not one Florida courts take lightly. For many divorcing couples, especially ones that have contrasting financial statuses, alimony is a huge sticking point in a divorce. Outside of prenuptial agreements, courts will usually look at the following factors when deciding when and how to award alimony:
- The standard of living during the marriage – The court looks at the lifestyle both spouses had while married.
- Length of the marriage – How long the marriage lasted is taken into account.
- Each spouse’s personal characteristics – The court considers the age, health, and other personal traits of each spouse.
- Financial resources – The court looks at the financial situation of each spouse, including income, assets, and debts.
- Earning capacity – The court assesses the ability of each spouse to earn money and support themselves.
- Contributions to the marriage – The court considers the contributions made by each spouse, both financially and in other ways, such as taking care of the household or raising children.
Any additional relevant factors, such as the availability of other financial resources or significant debts, will also be taken into consideration. Florida courts examine these factors to make a decision about alimony, but with the application of the new law, some of these factors will be
These guidelines help focus alimony decisions. However, there are other important considerations to make when getting a divorce in Florida.
Will Florida’s New Alimony Law Affect My Divorce?
The answer to this question is heavily dependent on the circumstances. For one, if you are the divorcing spouse that is in better financial shape, your alimony payments–if the court decides you should make them–won’t be permanent. Again, alimony is only one part of many divorces. There are other financial and practical issues like child custody and property division that you’ll have to face.
That said, there are always ways to protect yourself financially if you’re getting a divorce in Florida. Usually, this can include taking the following steps:
- Gather financial records – Collect all relevant financial documents like bank statements, tax returns, and investment records. These will help determine property division, alimony, and child support.
- Understand custody rights – If you have children, it’s important to explore your rights to custody and parenting time with them. Aim for a parenting plan that prioritizes the best interests of the children.
- Know about asset division – Florida follows equitable distribution, meaning the marital property is divided fairly, though not always equally. Ensure your attorney helps you get a fair share of the marital assets.
- Explore alternative dispute resolution – Mediation or collaborative divorce can be cost-effective and less emotionally draining alternatives to the traditional court process. These methods can help you reach a fair settlement without going to court.
Even by taking these steps, it always helps to work with an experienced Florida divorce lawyer to prepare for a divorce. Our team can help you with the legal process and make sure you correctly identify and evaluate your assets. Further, our guidance and expertise are valuable in navigating divorce proceedings in a way that allows you to get the best possible outcome.
Get Help From Experienced Florida Divorce Lawyers
When going through a divorce, dealing with alimony can be emotional and difficult. Now, with the passage of this new law, alimony rules have changed. That’s why it’s important to consult with our experienced Florida divorce lawyers at Robert Sparks Attorneys.
We can help you understand these new laws and get the support you deserve. If you’re thinking about or currently getting a divorce in Florida, we can help. To schedule a consultation, contact us today.