Alimony Laws Florida
Florida HB 907 made some big changes to Florida alimony laws. These changes apply to new alimony awards entered on or after July 1, 2010. Changes were made to the types of alimony awarded in Florida, the rules for awarding alimony and the legal presumptions a court makes when considering whether to award alimony.
There are now three additional factors for a judge to consider when making an alimony award in Florida:
The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
These factors were added to the already-existing alimony factors of Florida Statute 61.08.
The Florida Legislature also clarified the requirements for different types of alimony that can be awarded in Florida. The biggest difference is the creation of “durational” alimony. Durational alimony is meant for situations in which one party needs economic assistance for a set time after a short term (less than 7 years) or a moderate term (7-17 years) marriage.
These are the most important principles of the new durational alimony in Florida:
The amount of a durational alimony award in Florida may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances.
The length of durational alimony may not be modified absent exceptional circumstances. It terminates if either party dies or if the recipient remarries.
The length of a durational alimony award cannot be longer than the length of the marriage.
There are also new rebuttable presumptions about alimony based on the length of marriage written into the law. The rules havent changed, but they are now included in the law instead of just being in case law.
If you are married less than 7 years, it is considered short term; more than 7 years but less than 17 is a moderate term marriage; and more than 17 years is a long term marriage. These lengths are measured from the date of marriage to the date of filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage.
For short term marriages, the rebuttable legal presumption that no alimony will be paid is now written into the law. For long term marriages, there continues to be a rebuttable presumption that permanent alimony is appropriate. For moderate term marriages, the lack of legal presumptions continues in the new law. The real change with the presumptions is that they are included in the statute. They were always applied through case law previously.
Finally, there were also codifications for bridge-the-gap alimony and rehabilitative alimony. Both types of alimony are now included in the statute. Bridge-the-gap alimony is not modifiable and is limited to a maximum of two (2) years. Rehabilitative alimony continues to be modifiable; however, just as previous case law required, the new law requires that a specific rehabilitative plan for self-support be presented to the court. If you had a Florida divorce or alimony case filed and pending on July 1, 2010, these changes apply to your case. Be sure you know the new rules for Florida alimony.
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