Florida's Alimony Update
Effective July 1, 2023, Florida's law about alimony substantially changed with the update to Section 61.08, Florida Statutes, signed by Governor DeSantis. Below are highlights of the major changes. At the bottom of this page is additional information about alimony and how it can be resolved in mediation (if both parties agree to include some form of alimony as part of the settlement).
**Nothing referenced or stated on this page is to be interpreted or construed as legal advice, an opinion, nor as a full and accurate reflection of all alimony changes. The information contained on this page is for general informational purposes only. You should consult an attorney for specific legal advice on these changes and how they may affect your divorce.**
Changes to Lengths of Marriage
1. Short-term marriage: up to 10-year duration.
2. Moderate-term marriage: between 10 and 20 years.
3. Long-term marriage: 20 years or longer.
Rehabilitative & Bridge-the-Gap Alimony
1. Rehabilitative alimony is now limited to 5 years.
2. Bridge-the-Gap alimony is now limited to 2 years.
No More Permanent Alimony
Permanent (lifetime) alimony is eliminated, leaving only bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and durational forms of alimony.
Durational Alimony Limits (1/2)
1. Durational alimony may not be awarded for a marriage of less than 3 years.
2. The term of an award is limited based on the duration of the marriage, upon the consideration of four exceptional circumstances, and may not exceed the lesser of the obligee’s reasonable need or 35 percent of the difference between the parties’ net incomes.
Durational Alimony Limits (2/2)
Durational alimony may not exceed:
1. 50% the length of a short-term marriage. (Less than 10 years).
2. 60% the length of a moderate-term marriage. (10-20 years).
3. 75% the length of a long -term marriage. (20 years plus).
Impact On Retirement
If the obligor seeks to retire, the obligor may apply for modification of the alimony award no sooner than 6 months prior to the planned retirement. The bill provides a number of factors the court must consider in determining whether to modify or terminate alimony.
Standard of Living Factor
Expands the "standard of living" factor to include the anticipated needs and necessities of life for each party after the entry of final judgment.
Any Other Factor...
When relying on “any other factor necessary for equity and justice between the parties” factor, court now requires specific written findings of fact. Also "any other factor" may include a finding of a supportive relationship or a reasonable retirement.
Requires the court to make specific findings that there are special circumstances that warrant the obligor to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy to secure an alimony award.
A court MUST reduce or terminate an award of alimony if it makes specific written findings that a supportive relationship exists. The burden on the obligor to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that such a relationship exists. Once proven, the burden shifts to the obligee to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the court should not reduce or terminate alimony. Expands the "relationship" from “a person with whom the obligee resides” to “a person who is not related to the obligee by consanguinity or affinity.”
Effect of Adultery
The court is authorized to consider the adultery of either spouse, and any resulting economic impact that resulted from the adultery when determining the amount of alimony.
Adds “mental condition” to factor which previously included age, physical and emotional condition of each party. Also, adds new consideration of whether either party is physically or mentally disabled and the resulting impact on either the obligee’s ability to provide for his/her own needs or the obligors ability to pay alimony and whether such conditions are expected to be temporary or
Alimony & Mediation
One of the biggest advantages of mediation is that it allows the divorcing spouses to resolve all financial aspects of their divorce in any way that makes sense to them - regardless if such resolution is consistent with one or more provisions of Florida law (of course, there could be some decision that a judge may decide is violative of public policy or some other aspect of law). Generally, parties in mediation are free to contract with themselves for a settlement of the equitable distribution of assets and debts, alimony, taxes, property, businesses, loans, vehicles, etc. in whatever manner they both negotiate and decide is fair and reasonable to them.
Why take a chance in court? Trust yourself to decide what you think is fair and reasonable. Trust yourself to be able to say "yes" or "no" on each and every issue. In mediation, you control your own destiny. You and your spouse will agree whether or not to include alimony in the divorce settlement.
Alimony Often Creates Anxiety And Uncertainty
In Florida, in any dissolution of marriage proceedings, a court may grant alimony to either party in the form of bridge-the-gap support, rehabilitative support, or durational support. The Court may award alimony in the form of a lump-sum. As mentioned above, permanent support is no longer permitted under Florida law.. Alimony, also known as spousal support and/or maintenance, can be ordered in any combination of the above listed forms.
Section 61.08, Florida Statutes, sets forth the legal standards and statutory law regarding alimony.
The most challenging aspect of calculating an alimony amount is that there is no neat-and-nice formula to use - like when calculating child support. This lack of objective calculus (other than some general guidelines and limitations mentioned above and in the statute) often creates anxiety, frustration and uncertainty for spouses. I often suggest that a spouse who is seeking to include alimony in the mediated settlement agreement begin with a monthly budget for themselves. This will set the foundation for a discussion focused on facts - rather than just feelings and emotions.
Here is some general information about alimony (each situation is unique and this information may not be applicable to your particular divorce).
Length of Marriage (see section 61.08, F.S.).
For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that:
- a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years.
- a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration between 10 and 20 years.
- and a long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 20 years or longer.
The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.
Types of Alimony (see section 61.08, F.S.).
- Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to provide support to a party in making the transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony assists a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs. The length of an award of bridge-the-gap alimony may not exceed 2 years. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the obligee. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony is not modifiable in amount or duration.
- Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either the redevelopment of previous skills or credentials; or the acquisition of education, training, or work experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or credentials. The length of an award of rehabilitative alimony may not exceed 5 years.
- Durational alimony may be awarded to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the obligee. The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances in accordance with s. 61.14. Durational alimony may not be awarded following a marriage lasting less than 3 years. The length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage except [under certain situation set forth in statute].
- An award of durational alimony may not exceed 50 percent of the length of a short-term marriage, 60 percent of the length of a moderate-term marriage, or 75 percent of the length of a long-term marriage. Under exceptional circumstances, the court may extend the term of durational alimony by a showing of clear and convincing evidence that it is necessary after application of the factors [set forth in statute].
Criteria for an Award of Alimony (see section 61.08, F.S.).
If the couple were to resolve their alimony issues in court before a judge, the first step "in determining whether to award support, maintenance, or alimony, the court shall first make a specific, factual determination as to whether the party seeking support, maintenance, or alimony has an actual need for it and whether the other party has the ability to pay support, maintenance, or alimony. The party seeking support, maintenance, or alimony has the burden of proving his or her need for support, maintenance, or alimony and the other party’s ability to pay support, maintenance, or alimony."
If the court finds the above criteria met, it "shall" then consider "all" of the following relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
- The standard of living established during the marriage and the anticipated needs and necessities of life for each party after the entry of the final judgment.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, physical, mental, and emotional condition of each party, including whether either party is physically or mentally disabled and the resulting impact on either the obligee’s ability to provide for his or her own needs or the obligor’s ability to pay alimony and whether such conditions are expected to be temporary or permanent.
- The resources and income of each party, including the income generated from both nonmarital and marital assets.
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties, including the ability of either party to obtain the necessary skills or education to become self-supporting or to contribute to his or her self support prior to the termination of the support, maintenance, or alimony award.
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
- The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children whom the parties have in common, with special consideration given to the need to care for a child with a mental or physical disability.
- Any other factor necessary for equity and justice between the parties, which shall be specifically identified in the written findings of fact. This may include a finding of a supportive relationship as provided for in s. 61.14(1)(b) or a reasonable retirement as provided for in s. 61.14(1)(c)1.
Everything written above is how the court would resolve alimony (based upon Section 61.08, Florida Statutes, as amended).
In a PeacefulSplit® Divorce Mediation, you and your spouse are free to follow all or some of these criteria, or you can reach your own resolution about alimony, in whatever way you both feel is fair and reasonable. The power to determine your destiny and how you want to divided up assets/debts/property, etc. is the powerful reason so many divorcing spouses choose mediation as the path to obtain a peaceful divorce.