New Changes to Florida Alimony Laws

Good news for divorced breadwinners – the State of Florida will have soon changed its laws regarding alimony payments, bringing permanent alimony one step closer to being a thing of the past.

Referring to an earlier era when Mom stayed home and Dad went off to bring home the bacon, State Senator Kelli Stargel, sponsor of the bill, remarked after the recent Senate vote, “It’s just a different world. We need to rethink alimony with a changing of the times.”

SB 718 brings several key changes to Florida alimony law. Among them:

The bill codifies into law the presumption that equal time sharing by a minor child is in the best interest of the child unless the court finds a parent to be unfit. There are exceptions, of course: endangerment of the safety, well-being, or health of the child; incarceration of a parent; great distance between parental households; or clear evidence of extenuating circumstances.

Additionally, the bill amends the definitions of short-term, midterm, and long-term marriages by increasing the lengths of time married. They are now less than 11 years, 11-19 years, and 20 or more years.

Crucially, the bill places into law a rebuttable presumption against awarding alimony for short-term marriage; in exceptional cases, the court may determine a monthly alimony award that may not exceed 25 percent of the obligor’s gross income. For midterm marriages, there is no presumption in favor of either party, and alimony may be no greater than 35 percent of the obligor’s income.

For long-term marriages, there is a rebuttable presumption in favor of awarding alimony. To rebut this presumption, a party mush show clear and convincing evidence that the other party has no need for alimony. Alimony may not exceed 38 percent of the obligor’s monthly income.

But most controversial among its provisions, however, is the rebuttable presumption in law that when determining alimony, both parties will have a lower standard of living after dissolution of marriage than they enjoyed during the marriage. Current law allows judges to take the standard of living established during the marriage into consideration when determining alimony. Now, judges won’t have to attempt to maintain a standard of living for one party at the expense of the other. Family law is a complex and high-stakes area. Consult an attorney if you think SB 718 may affect your case.

Family law is a complex and high-stakes area. Consult an attorney if you think SB 718 may affect your case.