NEW FLORIDA ALIMONY & PATERNITY LAWS
Governor DeSantis signed into law SB 1416 on June 30th 2023. The changes to Florida law brought about by passing SB 1416 went into effect today, July 1, 2023. The purpose of this blog is to summarize some of the biggest changes under the new Florida law.
SB 1416 made changes to 4 different statutes, 61.08, 61.13, 61.14, and 741.0306. The major changes to Florida law are outlined below.
NO MORE PERMANENT ALIMONY
SB 1416 eliminated the court’s ability to award “permanent alimony” in Florida divorce cases. While permanent alimony has been eliminated, under the new law, the court may still award alimony for a longer period of time in the case of exceptional circumstances, such as one spouse becoming disabled during the marriage and being unable to support themselves. While further research is needed, the statute appears unclear as to whether a court may still order “permanent alimony” under the guise of durational alimony for a lifelong term.
LENGTH OF MARRIAGE
Until SB 1416 was passed, there was a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage was one lasting less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage was 7-17 years, and a long-term marriage was 17+ years. After the passing of SB 1416 there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage of less than 10 years, a moderate-term marriage 10-20 years, and a long-term marriage is a marriage lasting 20 years or longer. While the length of the marriage continues to govern the type of alimony a spouse could receive, it now also directly correlates to the length or duration of the alimony payments except under exceptional circumstances.
MAXIMUM LENGTH OF TIME AND AMOUNT OF ALIMONY TO BE PAID
Under the new alimony law, except under exceptional circumstances, “[a]n award of durational alimony may not exceed 50 percent of the length of a short-term marriage, 60 percent of the length of a moderate-term marriage, or 75 percent of the length of a long-term marriage. (Fla. Stat. 61.08(8)) For example, Someone married for 15 years could not receive a durational alimony award for longer than 9 years absent exceptional circumstances.
Fla. Stat. 61.08(c) of the new alimony law now caps the maximum amount of durational alimony to be paid at “35 percent of the difference between the parties’ net incomes”. For example, If spouse A makes $10,000/month and Spouse B makes $2,000/month, the most alimony Spouse A would pay to Spouse B would be $2,800/month ($8,000 x 35%).
EASIER MODIFICATION/TERMINATION OF ALIMONY
Thanks to the new alimony law, a spouse currently paying alimony may be able to have their current spousal support obligation terminated or modified more easily. Specifically, the new law made a termination or reduction in alimony easier when the paying spouse retires or the spouse being paid alimony is (or recently has been) in a supportive relationship. The new law also specifies that “normal retirement age” for the purposes of the new alimony law is “defined by the Social Security Administration or the customary retirement age for [the payor’s] profession.” (Fla. Stat. 61.14(c))
ENHANCED FATHER’S RIGHTS
Both SB 1416 and another bill recently signed into law by Governor DeSantis also affected important fathers’ rights as well as time-sharing and child custody law. Look for a future blog to learn more about these new changes to Florida law.
Contact Pinellas Family Lawyer to find out what the new Florida alimony and paternity laws mean for you.