After years of political back-and-forth, Florida ended permanent alimony this year. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that replaces it with an option called “durational alimony.” The law took effect on July 1.
What does this mean for Floridians who are considering divorce or have already begun the process? Further, what about spousal support agreements that are already in place?
What is durational alimony, and how is it determined?
Durational alimony, as the name suggests, is intended to provide temporary spousal support if it’s needed. A spouse may be able to receive it only if the marriage lasted a minimum of three years. There are other factors and legal requirements around durational alimony that judges must consider. One is that the duration of the support can’t be longer than 75% of the duration of the marriage. If a couple’s marriage lasted 4 years, for example, support can be ordered for no longer than three years.
Additional factors that judges need to weigh, as with all types of alimony, include both spouses’ income and earning potential and their ages and health. The law states that durational alimony is based on “the obligee’s reasonable need, or an amount not to exceed 35 percent of the difference between the parties’ net incomes, whichever amount is less.”
Note that rehabilitative and bridge-the-gap alimony remain unchanged. These are also temporary spousal support options. Additionally, if spouses voluntarily agree to other terms as they construct an uncontested response to their divorce filing, they can structure alimony however they choose. These limitations are only imposed by the courts in litigated matters.
What about those already receiving permanent alimony?
If there’s already a permanent non-modifiable support order in place, that won’t be affected by the new law. However, if an order is subject to modification, it may be possible for the paying spouse to seek a change to that order.
Whether you’re seeking or receiving spousal support or you’re paying (or being asked to pay) it, it’s critical to understand the laws that govern it. This way you’ll know what your options are and how best to work toward your goals. Having experienced legal guidance is crucial to protecting your rights and your financial future regardless of whether you opt to litigate or negotiate your divorce terms.