FLORIDA ALIMONY REFORM BILL 2022 – SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO FLORIDA’S ALIMONY LAW

A sweeping alimony reform measure was recently adopted by the Florida House and Florida Senate.  It has been sent to Governor Ron DeSantis for his consideration.  This is part one in a series describing the implications of this legislation.

First, permanent alimony was abolished in Florida.  There are now three types of alimony in Florida.  They are bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and durational alimony.

Bridge-the-gap alimony is awarded to assist parties in making the transition from being married to being single.  It is intended to assist the recipient spouse with specific short term needs.  Bridge-the-gap alimony cannot exceed two years.  It ends upon either party’s death or upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse.  It is not modifiable in duration or in amount.

Rehabilitative alimony is intended to assist the recipient spouse in becoming self-supporting through education, experience and training. In order to receive rehabilitative alimony, a specific rehabilitative plan must be presented to the court.  Rehabilitative alimony cannot exceed five years.  It can be modified or terminated when there is noncompliance with the plan, completion of the plan, or upon a substantial change of circumstances.

Durational alimony is intended to provide a recipient spouse with support for a set period of time.  It terminates upon either party’s death or upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse.  Durational alimony can be modified or terminated when there is a substantial change of circumstances, in accordance with the conditions set forth in the Florida Statutes.  It cannot be awarded unless the parties have been married for more than 3 years.   The term of durational alimony may not exceed 50% of the length of a marriage that lasts 3 to 10 years, 60% of the length of a marriage that lasts 10 to 20 years, and 75% of the length of a marriage that lasts 20 years or more.  The length of the marriage is the time period between the date of the marriage and the date of the filing of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  If the recipient spouse is permanently physically or mentally disabled and cannot partially or fully provide for his or her own support, or is an in-home full-time caregiver for a permanently and fully physically or mentally disabled child of the parties, durational alimony may be extended until the death of the child or there is no longer a need for durational alimony.  The amount of durational alimony is the lesser of: (i) the amount determined by a court to meet the recipient spouse’s reasonable needs, or (ii) an amount that does not exceed 35% of the difference between the net incomes of the parties.  A trial court is required to reduce the length of a durational alimony award by the amount of time during which the payor, either voluntarily or as a result of a court order, provided temporary support to the recipient spouse after the date on which the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed.

Second, in the event that a payor reaches full Social Security retirement age during the time period in which durational alimony is being paid, the payor’s obligation to make durational alimony payments may be terminated if all of the following conditions are met.  The payor must file and serve a notice of retirement one year prior to the payor’s retirement date.  If the recipient spouse does not contest the payor’s retirement notice within twenty (20) days, the payor’s obligation to make durational alimony payments ceases.  In the event that the recipient spouse elects to contest the payor’s notice of retirement, the recipient spouse may contest the payor’s retirement on the following grounds: (i) the recipient spouse’s income would be less than 130% of the United States poverty guidelines for single-person households; (ii) the recipient spouse would be unable to meet the recipient spouse’s basic needs, such as food, housing, transportation and utilities; (iii) the parties’ marital settlement agreement prohibits the termination or modification of alimony, or the reduction in alimony violates the provisions in the parties’ marital settlement agreement concerning the basis for modification of alimony; (iv) the recipient spouse is an in-home full-time caregiver to a permanently and fully physically or mentally disabled child of the parties; or (v) the recipient spouse is permanently physically or mentally disabled and is partially or fully unable to be self supporting.  In the event that the recipient spouse contests the payor’s retirement on the basis of the aforementioned five grounds, the trial court must then consider the following five factors in deciding whether to reduce or terminate the payor’s alimony obligation: (i) the length of the marriage; (ii) the financial resources of the recipient spouse; (iii) the recipient spouse’s sources of income; (iv) the sacrifice of time and leisure required of the payor to continue to provide alimony and the presumption that the payor has a right to retire upon reaching the full retirement age; (v) the health and age of the payor; (vi) the terms contained in the parties’ marital settlement agreement; and (vii) whether the parties agreed to an extended term of alimony or to permanent alimony in exchange for the payor retaining significant marital assets.  In the event that the payor continues to work and earns active gross income that exceeds 50% of the payor’s average active gross income for the three years preceding his or her retirement age, alimony may be extended until the payor’s periodic alimony obligation ceases or until the obligor retires and reduces his or her active gross income below 50% of the payor’s average active gross income for the three years preceding his or her retirement age.

In the event that a payor reaches full Social Security retirement age prior to the completion of a divorce proceeding, the payor may not be required to pay alimony unless:(i) the recipient spouse’s income would be less than 130% of the United States poverty guidelines for single-person households; (ii) the recipient spouse would be unable to meet the recipient spouse’s basic needs, such as food, housing, transportation and utilities; (iii) the parties’ marital settlement agreement prohibits the termination or modification of alimony, or the reduction in alimony violates the provisions in the parties’ marital settlement agreement concerning the basis for modification of alimony; (iv) the recipient spouse is an in-home full-time caregiver to a permanently and fully physically or mentally disabled child of the parties; (v) the recipient spouse is permanently physically or mentally disabled and is partially or fully unable to be self supporting.  In the event that the payor continues to work and earns active gross income that exceeds 50% of the payor’s average active gross income for the three years preceding his or her retirement age, alimony may be extended until the payor’s periodic alimony obligation ceases or until the obligor retires and reduces his or her active gross income below 50% of the payor’s average active gross income for the three years preceding his or her retirement age.

To speak with a Palm Beach Gardens divorce attorney to discuss alimony in Florida, contact the Lane Law Firm, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.

Contact Information