Changes to Florida Alimony Law in 2023 SB 1416
Florida Alimony Reform News Alert!
Effective 7/1/2023, SB 1416 makes big changes to Florida’s alimony laws. Here are the high points:
- Marriages are classified as short (0-10 years); moderate (10-20 years); and long (20 years and longer).
- Permanent periodic alimony is eliminated. The types of alimony are now limited to bridge-the-gap; rehabilitative; and durational.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony remains the same. It is limited to a maximum duration of 2 years and covers specific, identifiable expenses.
- Rehabilitative alimony is limited to 5 years. As before, it may be terminated if the rehabilitative plan is completed early.
- Durational alimony may not be awarded for marriages of less than 3 years. The term of durational alimony is not to exceed 50% of the length of a short-term marriage; 60% of the length of a moderate-term marriage; and 75% of the length of a long-term marriage, except in “exceptional circumstances.” The amount of durational alimony may not exceed the lesser of (i) the recipient’s need or (ii) 35% of the difference between the parties’ net incomes.
- As before, the court must make specific findings before requiring a payor to get a life insurance policy that secures the payment of alimony. The new law allows the court to allocate the cost of the policy to both parties according to their ability to pay. (This provision is puzzling. Since alimony is awarded only if the recipient has financial need, the recipient would necessarily be paying their portion out of alimony received from the payor, which means the payor would indirectly be paying the entire cost of the entire policy.)
- The new law clarifies that alimony may be reduced or terminated upon proof that the alimony recipient was in a supportive relationship within 365 days before the filing of the modification petition. The payor has the burden of proving the existence of the supportive relationship. Once proven, the burden shifts to the recipient to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the court should not reduce or terminate alimony.
- The new law clarifies the procedures for the payor to modify or terminate alimony upon retirement at “normal retirement age,” as defined by the Social Security Administration, or the customary retirement age for the payor’s profession. The payor may file a petition to modify or terminate alimony six months before anticipated retirement. The payor must prove that retirement will reduce the ability to pay alimony. Once proven, the burden shifts to the recipient to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the court should not reduce or terminate alimony. The new law provides numerous factors for the court to consider when deciding whether to reduce or terminate alimony due the payor’s voluntary retirement.
The elimination of permanent periodic alimony is the most significant change under the new 2023 alimony law. Permanent periodic alimony was previously the most robust form of alimony under Florida law. It did not include an end date and was the default type of alimony awarded in a long-term marriage. Durational alimony is the new standard. However, even durational alimony is diminished under the new law due to legislative caps imposed on its length and amount.
Need help with alimony in Orlando, Florida? Call DeVoe Law Firm at 407-284-1620.
Michael DeVoe is a divorce attorney in Orlando, Florida practicing contested divorce, uncontested divorce, timesharing, visitation, custody, paternity, child support, injunctions, and other family law cases.