Huge Alimony Changes Coming To Florida

As of July 1st, Florida has officially eliminated permanent alimony as an option following divorces for long-term marriages. Permanent alimony has been controversial for decades, and these new Florida laws signal a shift in how courts will decide alimony and payment modifications in the coming years.

If you are considering a divorce likely to involve alimony payments or are currently part of an alimony agreement, you need legal representation to help navigate this new landscape.

Johnny Bardine of The Bardine Law Firm has represented hundreds of clients during divorce proceedings and understands the importance of knowing the law. To learn more about how our firm can help forward your interests during a difficult divorce, contact us today or call us at (727) 605-7078.

The Different Types of Alimony In Florida

While there are other changes to Florida alimony law that we need to discuss, the attention-grabbing headline has been the removal of permanent alimony. If a court awarded your spouse permanent alimony under the old system, you were likely on the hook for alimony payments up until your former spouse’s death. Much of the backlash to the passing of this new law comes from old or retired alimony recipients who fear that their main source of income in old age will be taken away.

Permanent alimony, however, was just one potential form of alimony that courts could order. Depending on the length of the marriage, the financial situation of both spouses, and the divorce agreement, other types of alimony were possible, such as:

• Durational alimony, which orders payments for a set period of time
• Bridge-the-gap alimony, which helps one party to overcome immediate financial concerns following a separation
• Rehabilitative alimony, which aims to assist spouses who chose to forgo education or work experience during their marriage to regain skills and opportunities

Looking at this list, you should notice the differences that separate these types of alimony from permanent alimony. Namely, most situations that awarded these forms of alimony did so for a specific period of time or for specific reasons. Permanent alimony, in contrast, was most commonly found in cases where a long-lasting marriage with one primary breadwinner fell apart. In these scenarios, homemakers – mostly older women – need permanent monetary support, as most leave the marriage without immediately marketable skills or experience.

Important Alimony Changes

This alimony overhaul did more than just remove permanent alimony. In fact, as permanent alimony was usually reserved for long-term marriages of 17 years or more (20 years or more under the new changes), most people dealing with the court system and alimony payments were ordered to pay under different structures. Modifications to these other types of alimony will have a huge impact going.

For durational alimony, the cutoff lengths for identifying short-term, moderate-term, and long-term marriages increased. As durational alimony is capped at lengths relating to their classification as short, medium, or long-term, durational alimony payments as a whole are likely to decrease.
Rehabilitative alimony was similarly capped at five years, and legislators clarified information regarding situations that might end the payments sooner than five years.

Other changes made an effort to help those currently giving payments to an ex-spouse more options to reduce their alimony requirements or stop them altogether. Specifically, retirement-age men had spoken out about the issues they face trying to retire when still forced to pay alimony. Judges can now consider things like age, the average retirement age of someone’s occupation, the reduction in financial hardship that alimony payment stoppage can bring, and more.

How Does This Affect My Alimony Plan?

The biggest concern of Governor DeSantis before he signed this bill into law – and the reason he vetoed it when it landed on his desk last year – was that many people currently relying on permanent alimony could become financially destitute if payments suddenly stopped for all older divorcees.

Proponents of the law, like State Senator Joe Gruters, have stated that these changes do not affect non-modifiable agreements. If, however, a modifiable alimony agreement now falls under different statute guidelines, those paying alimony have the right to go before a judge and make their case to amend their existing payments.

Contact A Local St. Petersburg Divorce Attorney Today

If you are currently paying alimony to a former spouse or considering beginning divorce proceedings, having proper legal representation that knows the new laws inside and out can help limit your required payments and safeguard your financial future.

At The Bardine Law Firm, our goal is to help you navigate Florida courts and come out the other side in the best position possible. Our lead attorney, Johnny Bardine, has extensive experience representing St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay residents during divorces and alimony negotiations. Contact us today at (727) 605-7078 or through our website to learn more.

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