Florida Alimony Reform in 2023, Part II
In part one of this riveting series, we examined reforms to the types of alimony in Florida. In this post, we’ll look at changes to the factors that determine the amount and duration of payments.
The end of permanent alimony, which we discussed in Part I, was the most contentious part of the alimony reform bill. Older obligees, mostly women, who receive permanent alimony and now face “financial devastation,” decried the move. As is normally the case, there’s two sides to the story. Older obligors, mostly men, who in many cases delayed retirement so they could afford permanent alimony payments, applauded the move.
“Florida Family Fairness is pleased that the Florida Legislature and Gov. DeSantis have passed a bill that ends permanent alimony and codifies in statute the right to retire for existing alimony payers,” the group said in a statement “Anything that adds clarity and ends permanent alimony is a win for Florida families.”
Setting and Modifying Payments
In some states, alimony reformers replaced the factor-based determination system with a percentage-of-income determination system that’s similar to a child support determination. In the Sunshine State, the factor-based determination system remains, albeit with some significant changes.
The obligor’s ability to pay and the obligee’s financial need is a threshold factor. Regardless of the other factors, a Jupiter alimony attorney cannot obtain spousal support if this one doesn’t apply. The obligee must have a financial need (not a financial want) and the obligor must be able to pay (not willing to pay).
If the judge makes an affirmative need/ability finding, the judge then uses the following factors to determine the amount and duration of payments, subject to the limits discussed in Part I.
- Standard of living during the marriage,
- Length of the marriage,
- Marital misconduct, mostly adultery (a new factor)
- Relative age and physical condition of each spouse,
- All resources available, including nonmarital property, to both spouses,
- Education and employability of each spouse,
- Noneconomic contributions to the marriage (the “homemaker factor”),
- Parenting time division, and
- Any other relevant factor.
That “other relevant factor” is often a financially supportive relationship with another person, an especially significant factor in modification proceedings. More on that below.
The marital misconduct factor isn’t entirely new. The judge may still consider some other kinds of marital misconduct, such as abusive behavior.
Generally, the judge will end spousal support payments if the need/ability balance permanently, substantially, and unexpectedly changes.
Income records are the best evidence in the first area. A large bonus or unexpected business uptick isn’t a permanent change, unless a Jupiter daily law attorney proves otherwise. As a rule of thumb, a “substantial” change is a 10 percent income change.
Normally, income changes just alter the amount of payments. The change must be very large to justify a termination.
Alimony orders terminate as a matter of law when the hourglass sand runs out on limited duration payments, such as a final order in a temporary alimony award or the time limit in a bridge-the-gap award, or if the obligee remarries.
Work With a Thorough Palm Beach County Lawyer
Divorce and related matters almost always involve financial and emotional issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Jupiter family law attorney, contact Caroline Olson, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.