How Florida just changed the rules for alimony

Every state has a slightly different approach to alimony, which is also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance. The rules in Florida impose numerous restrictions on alimony orders stemming from contentious divorces (as spouses pursuing non-contentious solutions can agree to virtually any terms that they mutually consider to be fair and reasonable), including that alimony payments must be necessary and the party required to pay must have the income and resources to meet those financial responsibilities.

Additionally, the length of the marriage and other factors can influence the duration and amount of alimony paid every month. Recently, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a new bill quite similar to three that he refused to approve not that long ago. This law makes changes to the alimony statutes that include an end to permanent alimony.

What will these changes mean for Florida spouses?

Previously, permanent alimony was only available in a handful of rare scenarios. These situations included cases where one spouse was completely unable to work because of age or health issues. Most alimony orders in Florida are rehabilitative and only last for a set amount of time. Only in rare cases involving non-working spouses and long-term marriages usually lead to permanent alimony.

The new law makes it impossible for the courts to order permanent alimony for spouses going forward. Regardless of how big the discrepancy in earning potential was or how much one spouse sacrificed their own career for the benefit of the family, the courts will not grant them indefinite alimony payments in the future. This obviously places a burden on stay-at-home parents and homemakers who may end up divorced because of their spouse’s infidelity or other significant misconduct. Through no fault of their own, they may be in a situation where they cannot financially support themselves and also cannot depend on their former spouse to help them make ends meet.

Will this impact existing orders?

Although the bill did not include language ending existing permanent alimony orders, it did create a means of modifying existing orders after the person paying retires or experiences a decline in health.

Understanding the existing family law statutes in Florida and tracking major changes to them may benefit those who are preparing for a divorce and are worried about their ability to support themselves or the possible obligation to make alimony payments.

FindLaw Network
The Florida Bar | Board Certified
Super Lawyers
Peer Review Rated For Ethical Standards & Legal Ability | AV Preeminent | Martindale-Hubbell from LexisNexis 2020
AFLP | Association of Family Law Professionals
Bar Register | Preeminent Lawyers | 2020 Martindale-Hubbell