An alimony reform bill was recently introduced in the Florida legislature.  This bill will have a significant impact on how alimony will be awarded in Florida if it is passed and signed by the Governor.  The bill will apply to all initial petitions for dissolution of marriage that are filed or pending on July 1, 2023, and to supplemental petitions for modification of alimony.  The following is a brief synopsis of how alimony will be awarded in Florida under this new legislation.

First, the bill eliminates permanent alimony.  In its place, will be four types of alimony.  They will be temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and durational alimony.  Courts may order alimony to be paid in a lump sum or as periodic payments.

Second, courts will be permitted to consider the adultery of either spouse and its resulting economic impact in determining the amount of alimony to award.

Third, courts will be required to consider 9 factors in determining alimony.  First, courts are to consider whether the party seeking support has an actual need for support and whether the other party has the ability to pay support.  The party seeking support will have the burden to prove that he or she has a need for support and that the other party has the ability to pay support.  Once the court determines that one of the parties has a need for support and that the other party has the ability to pay support, the court will consider the following 8 additional factors in determining the proper form of alimony.  First, the parties’ standard of living during the course of the marriage and the anticipated needs of both of the parties after a divorce is granted.  Second, the duration of the parties’ marriage. Third, the parties’ age, physical and mental condition.  Fourth, the income and resources of both parties and the income earned from marital and nonmarital assets.  Fifth, the earning capacities, educational levels and employability of the parties.  Courts are to consider the ability of both of the parties to obtain the necessary skills or education to enable themselves to either contribute to their own support or become self-supporting.  Sixth, the contribution that each of the parties made to the marriage, including education, career building, homemaking and child care. Seventh, the responsibilities that each of the parties will have in raising children that they have in common.  Eighth, any other factor that courts of equity and justice should consider in making an alimony award.  This may include a finding that a supportive relationship exists or that one of the parties may reasonably retire.

Fourth, a short-term marriage is going to be considered to be a marriage that lasts less than 10 years.  A moderate-term marriage is going to be considered to be a marriage that lasts between 10 and 20 years.  A long-term marriage will now be considered to be a marriage that lasts 20 years or more.  The length of the marriage is considered to be the amount of time that has elapsed between the date of the marriage and the date of the filing for divorce.

Fifth, bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to assist a party in making the transition from married to single life.  It is intended to assist a party with identifiable, short-term needs.  The length of an award of bridge-the-gap alimony may not exceed 2 years.

Sixth, rehabilitative alimony is intended to provide education and training that will enable a party to become self-supporting or contribute to their own support.  Under the new alimony reform legislation, an award of rehabilitative alimony may not exceed 5 years.

Seventh, durational alimony lasts for a set period of time.  It may not 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.  An award of durational alimony may be extended under exceptional circumstances based upon the above described 9 factors and a consideration of the following 4 factors.  First, the extent to which the payee’s age and employability wholly or partially limit the payee’s ability to be self-supporting.  Second, the extent to which the payor’s available financial resources wholly or partially limit the payor’s ability to be self-supporting.  Third, the extent to which a payee’s mental or physical disability wholly or partially limits the payee’s ability to be self-supporting.  Fourth, the extent to which a payee is the caregiver to the parties’ mentally or physically disabled child.  The amount of durational alimony will be the amount that is required to meet the payee’s reasonable needs, or an amount that does not exceed 35% of the difference between the husband and wife’s net incomes, whichever amount is less.

Eighth, an alimony award may not leave the obligor with significantly less net income than the net income of the obligee, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

In actions for modification, the court will be authorized to terminate or reduce an award of alimony when the payor has reached the normal retirement age.  The normal retirement age will be considered to be the normal retirement age specified by the Social Security Administration, or the customary retirement age for the payor’s profession.  The payor must actually retire or make demonstrable efforts to retire.  Retirement must reduce the payor’s ability to pay.  The court will look at the following ten factors in determining whether to reduce or terminate alimony.  First, the age and health of the payor. Second, the type of work performed by the payor. Third, the customary age of retirement in the payor’s profession. Fourth, the likelihood that the payor will return to work, and the payor’s motivation for retiring.  Fifth, the needs of the party receiving alimony and that recipient’s ability to contribute to his or her own needs. Sixth, the impact that the termination or reduction of alimony would have on the payee.  Seventh, the parties’ assets before, during and after the dissolution of marriage, and whether either of the parties wastefully dissipated assets received at the time of the divorce.  Eighth, the income earned by the parties during and after the marriage.  Ninth, the retirement, pension and Social Security Benefits received by the parties after the marriage.  Tenth, the payor’s compliance with his or her alimony obligation.  A payor may file a Supplemental Petition for Modification six months prior to the date of retirement.

The Florida Senate Bill was filed on March 2, 2023, referred to the Fiscal Policy and Rules Committees on March 9, 2023, introduced on March 14, 2023, and is scheduled for a hearing on the March 23, 2023, Fiscal Policy Committee agenda.  On March 23, 2023, the Florida Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy voted in favor of the bill.  The bill is now in the Rules Committee of the Florida Senate.  The bill was read for the first time by the Florida Senate Fiscal Policy Committee on March 28, 2023.

To speak to a Palm Beach divorce attorney with offices in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Wellington, Florida contact the Lane Law Firm, P.A.

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