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Changing Landscapes in Alimony

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The long awaited and historic ban to permanent alimony gets signed. Controversial CS/SB 1416 was signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on June 30, 2023. SB 1416 marks the fifth time alimony reform has been up before the Legislature in the State of Florida. The Alimony Reform Bill takes effect, Saturday, July 1, 2023.

Click here for a full copy of the 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill.

What is Alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a legal arrangement in which one spouse provides financial support to the other spouse following a divorce or separation. It is typically intended to help the lower-earning or financially dependent spouse maintain a similar standard of living to what they had during the marriage.

The purpose of alimony is to address any economic imbalance that may result from the end of a marriage, particularly in cases where one spouse has been economically dependent on the other. It aims to assist the recipient spouse in meeting their reasonable needs and to provide them with a level of financial support until they can become self-supporting.

What does the 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill (SB1416) do to the law?

The 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill makes significant changes to the concepts of “short,” “moderate” and “long” term marriage and the kinds of alimony that can be awarded in each type. The 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill establishes a five-year cutoff on rehabilitative alimony. Under the 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill, people married for less than three years (3 years) will not be eligible for alimony, and those who have been married twenty years (20 years) or longer will be eligible to receive payments for up to 75 percent of the total length of the marriage.

The 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill identifies factors for the courts to consider for example:

  • the anticipated needs and necessities of life of each party after entry of the final judgment,
  • the physical and mental condition of parties,
  • their ability to use or obtain requisite skills to support themselves gainfully, and,
  • any disabilities (short or long-term) that affect a party or the children for which a party will become the caregiver.

While permanent alimony disappears, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and durational alimony remain and may or may not be awarded to each type of marriage, depending upon the circumstances. The 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill finally gives us a formula as a guide for support awards.

The 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill also codifies case law by allowing for the reduction or termination of alimony based on the retirement of a payor. The guidelines codify existing case law that dates back to the Florida Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Pimm v. Pimm, 601 So.2d 534 (1992). This section has been given much criticism as the 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill is arguably over broad in defining what age is appropriate for a person to retire.

The 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill allows a person paying alimony to seek to reduce or terminate alimony when the person paying the alimony “has reached normal retirement age as defined by the Social Security Administration or the customary retirement age for his or her profession and that the obligor (person paying the alimony) has taken demonstrative and measurable efforts or actions to retire or has actually retired.”

The 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill will also allow alimony payers to seek modifications if “a supportive relationship exists or has existed” involving their ex-spouses in the previous year.

 

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