A bill that will change the way alimony is awarded in Florida has been passed by both chambers of the legislature and sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis. Senate Bill 1416 eliminates permanent alimony and gives judges more discretion when determining the appropriate duration and amount of spousal support. The legislation is supported by The Florida Bar’s Family Law Section and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
The end of permanent alimony
The alimony reform bill will apply to Florida divorces that are filed or pending on July 1 and certain petitions to modify existing alimony orders. The bill replaces permanent alimony with temporary, rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap and durational spousal support. The bill allows judges to order alimony to be paid in periodic payments or a lump sum, and it permits judges to consider adultery when deciding how much support is appropriate.
Factors for determining alimony
When considering alimony awards, SB 1416 requires judges to consider the needs of the receiving spouse and the financial resources of the paying spouse. The bill places the burden to establish need and capacity on the spouse seeking alimony. The bill also requires judges to consider the following factors before awarding alimony:
- The couple’s standard of living
- The duration of the marriage
- The ages and physical and mental health of the spouses
- The incomes and financial resources of each spouse
- The earning capacities of the spouses
- The contributions made by each spouse during the marriage
- The parenting responsibilities of each spouse
- Other factors that could influence the fairness of the order
This bill gives judges far more discretion when considering petitions for alimony, which should lead to more equitable outcomes. The legislation eliminates permanent alimony, but it allows judges to award spousal support for up to 75% of the length of some marriages.