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Florida Alimony in the Age of SB 1416


Divorce makes both parties feel like their ex-spouse has made them financially worse off, but the effect is especially pronounced if one spouse pays alimony.  Even though most alimony awards arise from marital settlement agreements (MSAs) drafted during mediation instead of from judges’ decisions, they still often result in hard feelings.  The resentment you feel about having to pay X percent of your income to your ex-spouse is nothing compared to the outrage of guys who have nothing to do but scroll through social media posts about hard-working men like themselves who have to pay X percent of their income to their ex-spouses.  Florida’s alimony laws have never been known for their simplicity, but this summer, some changes went into effect, most of which favor former spouses who pay alimony.  A Boca Raton alimony lawyer can help you draft an MSA that complies with the current alimony rules.

SB 1416 Limits Rehabilitative Alimony to Five Years

SB 1416, which went into effect in the summer of 2023, changes several provisions of Florida’s alimony laws.  One change is that the maximum duration for rehabilitative alimony is now five years.  Rehabilitative alimony is meant to pay for the recipient spouse’s education to enable him or her to earn a credential that would facilitate gainful employment.

Gray Divorce Just Got Even Bleaker

The biggest change is that SB 1416 has abolished permanent alimony; in the past, an award of periodic alimony that lasted until one spouse died or the recipient spouse remarried was an option in divorce cases where the marriage had lasted at least 17 years.  Pursuant to SB 1416, Florida judges cannot sign any new permanent alimony orders, but existing MSAs that provide for permanent alimony are still valid.  The abolition of permanent alimony is the most controversial provision, since the courts only order it if the recipient spouse would be destitute without it.  This means that, in the past, it was a choice between permanent alimony and poverty, but now poverty is the only option.

Another provision that applies to alimony payments made between seniors, who account for a large percentage of alimony payers and recipients, is that alimony amounts are always modifiable subject to the retirement of the paying spouse.  The law uses a 1992 court decision as a template for the new guidelines for modifying your alimony obligation when you retire.

Can Your Ex Stop Paying Alimony If You Move in With Your Parents?

SB 1416 also makes it easier for paying ex-spouses to terminate their alimony awards if the recipient spouse is in a “supportive relationship” with someone else.  The old interpretation of “supportive relationship” meant cohabitation with a domestic partner, what might be called common law marriage in other jurisdictions.  Under SB 1416, the definition is broader.  Your ex might be able to stop paying if you move in with roommates or your own parents to reduce your expenses.  It effectively enables your ex to claim that your Dad is a sugar daddy.

Contact Schwartz | White About the New Alimony Rules

A South Florida family law attorney can help you avoid financial catastrophe within the limits of the new alimony laws.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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