Florida has seen its fair share of legal changes across the board, but for many people, the most jarring can be found in family law. Governor Ron DeSantis has signed several bills into law that triggered changes in child custody and support, paternity rights, and, surprisingly for some: alimony.
Before Florida Senate Bill 1416, lesser-earning spouses could potentially receive alimony payments indefinitely, or at least until their financial situation improved or they entered into a new relationship. Much like other family and divorce laws, it was very hard to modify these agreements after they were settled. Things are much different now, to say the least. The recent changes to alimony focus on three main types:
1. Bridge-the-Gap Alimony: Navigating the Transition
For some lesser-earning spouses, the thought of divorce seemed like an impossibility without alimony. Shared expenses, shared lifestyles, debt, and more could financially cripple someone on a single income. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to make a smoother transition for lower-earning spouses to become self-sufficient post-divorce. Its purpose is to provide immediate support during the initial stages after divorce for up to two years. It is intended to meet specific short-term needs.
2. Rehabilitative Alimony: Paving the Path to Empowerment
For those who aspire to elevate their earning potential through education or training, rehabilitative alimony can function as a beacon of support. This type of alimony is a stepping stone toward self-empowerment and sufficiency by offering the lower-earning spouse up to 5 years to acquire the skills necessary for a career with higher-earning potential. There must be a rehabilitative plan to obtain this award.
3. Durational Alimony: Defined by Time and Need
Durational alimony is a less specific version of alimony, and like the others, takes how long the marriage lasted and the specific needs of the recipient into account when making a determination. As it sounds, it’s awarded for a specific period of time and allows recipients to transition to self-sufficiency while also giving the paying former spouse the peace of mind that they won’t have to spend their retirement savings on their former spouse. The amount is non-modifiable as to length but modifiable as to amount.
Proving Need And Making Changes
An interesting development for alimony is who has the burden of proof. Lower-earning spouses now have to prove that they genuinely need alimony in order to transition into their new life without their partner successfully. Previously, the paying spouse would have to make an effort to prove that alimony in any one or all of its forms was not warranted.
Equally, if not more important, there is a lot more flexibility for those who must make alimony payments. Under “permanent” alimony, paying spouses had to wait for substantial and unforeseeable changes in their circumstances to modify downward or for their former spouse to die, remarry, or enter a supportive relationship in order to put an end to the payments. Now it’s much easier for paying spouses to modify or end alimony payments based on much less stringent circumstances. Moreover, the new bill allows the payor to modify upon retirement at an appropriate age. This concept pays respect to the fact that finances can change, and alimony payments need to be realistic.
Getting The Help You Need
The implications of SB 1416 ripple through the lives of divorcing couples across Florida. If you find you’re currently paying or receiving permanent alimony or are going through divorce proceedings, you need to discuss the impact this law may have on your life and finances.
The legal landscape is constantly transforming in family law, and it’s absolutely crucial to stay up to date on upcoming changes by discussing your situation with your attorney.
There is a happy life waiting for you. Our trusted Legal Team provides bilingual legal services in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties. We handle all financial aspects of Florida Divorces, including Mediation, Postnuptial Agreements, and Asset Protection.