Setting Alimony Payments in Florida
In 2023, Florida became the latest state to significantly change its spousal support rules. SB 1416 ushered in several major changes, but it didn’t change the underlying presumption in spousal support matters.
Obligees are only eligible for alimony if they have a demonstrable economic need and the obligor has the ability to pay (the willingness to pay is irrelevant). Even if the obligee qualifies, the judge may only order the minimally necessary amount of spousal support, in terms of duration and amount of payments.
Furthermore, a divorce property division, which includes a spousal support award, must not be an unfair financial burden on either spouse. There are two sides to this story. Alimony is definitely an additional expense for obligors, but divorced women are much more likely to live in poverty than divorced men.
Despite the new law, obligees and obligors still have important legal and financial rights. But these rights are basically meaningless unless a Jupiter alimony attorney stands up for them in court.
Duration of Payments
In wake of the new alimony reform, which passed after two prior attempts had failed, there are now four types of alimony in Florida:
- Temporary: If the obligee was the non filing spouse and the legal action blindsided the obligee, temporary alimony may be available. These payments help obligees pay attorneys’ fees, daycare deposits, and other divorce-related expenses. If the obligee filed the marriage dissolution petition and/or the couple had been separated for quite some time, the obligee’s case for temporary alimony is much weaker.
- Rehabilitative: Temporary alimony payments cease when the judge finalizes the divorce. Sometimes, obligees need additional financial assistance. For example, the obligee might still be waiting for the marital residence to sell, In these cases, and if the need/ability dynamic still applies, the temporary alimony might become rehabilitative alimony, which lasts up to two years.
- Bridge-the-Gap: The third type of spousal support is very rare in jurisdictions other than Florida. It’s available if the obligee needs further assistance to become self-sufficient. For example, an obligee might need to complete a college degree before s/he can secure a good-paying job. If the obligee has such a need, the obligor has the ability to pay, the obligee files a written plan, and the obligee adheres to that plan, alimony is available.
- Durational: The final form of alimony is not the only kind of alimony that redistributes income between eh ex-spouses on a long-term basis. The new law also changed the way judges calculate durational alimony. Now, a short term marriage lasted less than ten years, a moderate term marriage lasted between ten and twenty years, and a long term marriage lasted twenty years or more. This time is measured from the date of marriage to the date of filing. Duration of the marriage is one factor in the amount of payments. More on that below.
The new law eliminated permanent alimony. Judges rarely awarded these payments anyway, as the obligee usually needed to be disabled or have custody of a permanently-disabled child.
Amount of Payments
In some states, alimony payments are like child support payments. A guideline formula usually applies. But in Florida, the judge has discretion to set the amount of payments, based on factors like the length of the marriage, which was mentioned above, the relative earning ability of each spouse, and noneconomic contributions to the marriage.
Another feature of the new law is that judges may now consider fault in the breakup of the marriage when setting the amount of payments.
Rely on a Hard-Working 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.