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How Does Alimony Work in Florida?

Have questions about how alimony works in Florida? We cover everything you need to know about alimony in FL here.

evident Editorial Team
April 15, 2024
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If you’re going through a divorce in Florida, you probably have a lot of questions as you navigate a stressful and challenging time. One question that often comes up is, "how does alimony work in Florida?"

Alimony laws vary by state and even the terminology can be different depending on where you are. (For instance, alimony is typically called spousal support in Ohio).

So how is alimony calculated in Florida? And what types are even available? This article provides an overview of how alimony works in Florida and everything you need to know.

Key Takeaways

What is alimony?

Alimony is financial support provided from one spouse to another during and/or after the divorce process. Though it is often called spousal support or spousal maintenance under other states' laws, Florida law still uses the term alimony.

In Florida, the amount, duration, and form of alimony payments vary on a case-by-case basis. We’ll cover this in more detail below.

Florida Alimony Reform 2023

A new Florida alimony law passed in 2023 made crucial changes to the way that alimony works in Florida. The rest of this article explains how alimony works in Florida more generally, but first we'll highlight some of the most important changes from the 2023 Florida alimony reform.

An important general note about the new Florida alimony law is that it is not retroactive. Thus, having been signed into law in July 2023, it does automatically affect alimony awards prior to that date and instead only applies to divorce cases filed after July 1, 2023.

Elimination of Permanent Alimony

The new alimony law eliminated the option of awarding permanent (or lifetime) alimony awards. Instead, post-divorce alimony awards must now be one of the three following types of alimony: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, or durational forms of alimony.

Cap Placed on Length of Rehabilitative Alimony

There is now a maximum five year limit for rehabilitative alimony.

Cap Placed on Length of Durational Alimony

The 2023 Florida alimony reform placed caps on the length of durational alimony as well. Now, the following caps apply:

  • Marriages shorter than 3 years:  durational alimony is not available.
  • Marriages of 3-10 years:  the length of the alimony award can't exceed 50% of the duration of the marriage.
  • Marriages of 10-20 years:  the length of the alimony award can't exceed 60% of the duration of the marriage.
  • Marriages of over 20 years:  the length of the alimony award can't exceed 75% of the duration of the marriage.

The court can exceed these limits, though, in limited circumstances such as if the recipient spouse has mental or physical disabilities or if they are caring for a child with disabilities.

Cap Placed on Amounts of Durational Alimony

In additional to capping the length of durational alimony, the new Florida alimony law also capped the amount of durational alimony. Now, durational alimony is the lesser of the recipient spouse's financial need or a maximum of 35% of the difference between the two spouses' incomes.

Retirement of Paying Spouse

The new alimony law clarifies the impact that the retirement of the paying spouse has on payments. Specifically, the paying spouse may apply for modification of the alimony award within six months of their planned retirement. The court can consider whether to modify or terminate the alimony award based on a variety of factors.

Impact of a New "Supportive Relationship"

The 2023 Florida alimony reform dictates that a court must reduce or end an alimony award if it finds the receiving spouse enters a new supportive relationship.

The burden is first on the paying spouse to show that such a relationship exists, and then shifts to the recipient spouse to show why alimony should not be modified or terminated if they do not want the award to change.

Types of Alimony in Florida

Under Florida divorce law, there are four types of alimony awards. Prior to the Florida alimony reform in 2023, there were five types of alimony awards, but the new Florida alimony law eliminated permanent alimony.

Courts decide what type of alimony is appropriate and whether that alimony should be awarded as a lump sum or in periodic payments, which are typically more common, depending on a couple's particular circumstances.

Temporary Alimony

Temporary alimony is issued during the divorce proceedings and ends when the divorce is finalized. The purpose of temporary support is to allow the lower-earning spouse to remain financially secure during the divorce process. 

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

Florida is one of the few states that allows Bridge-the-Gap alimony awards. As the name suggests, this type of alimony is designed to help the requesting spouse meet specific needs while transitioning from marriage to being single. (E.g. if they have particular living expenses or bills to pay while they re-enter the workforce or wait for the family home to sell).

Bridge-the-gap alimony awards cannot be modified and cannot exceed two years. The award will also terminate if the paying spouse dies or the supported spouse remarries

Rehabilitative alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of Florida alimony. These types of payments temporarily support a spouse as they acquire sufficient education or job training to allow them to obtain employment. 

The party seeking rehabilitative alimony must present a "rehabilitative plan" to the court for review to get this type of alimony. 

Durational alimony

Durational support is awarded in cases where the recipient spouse needs financial assistance for a period of time following the divorce. 

This type of alimony is awarded for a definite amount of time but cannot last longer than the marriage. For example, your alimony award cannot exceed five years if you were married for five years.  

Though both are temporary forms of support, durational alimony provides support for a set period, while rehabilitative alimony aims to provide support for a spouse to obtain the necessary skills that allow them to be self-sufficient.

It is possible to modify durational support if you can demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances. 

How is alimony calculated in Florida?

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Florida courts don’t use a set formula when determining alimony. Instead, the courts first determine whether alimony is appropriate and then calculate the details using various factors set out by law.

So first, Florida courts evaluate whether the requesting spouse has a demonstrable need for support and whether the other spouse has the ability to pay alimony. 

Second, if the court finds there is a “need and ability,” a judge will consider various factors when determining alimony in Florida, including:

  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s earning capacity, including their education and vocational skills
  • Each spouse’s financial resources, including assets and liabilities
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, whether financial or otherwise
  • Each spouse’s age, as well as their physical and emotional condition 
  • “Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties”

So, how much is alimony in Florida? Judges have broad discretion when considering what type of alimony to award and the details of the arrangement, making it difficult to offer any type of average alimony payment in Florida.

Instead, the judge uses their discretion in considering the above factors, while making sure that the supported spouse’s income does not exceed the paying spouse’s net income, unless there are extraordinary circumstances.

Also, note that a judge may consider whether either spouse committed adultery during the marriage and how this may have influenced marital funds. (E.g. if a spouse spent money on an apartment or trips with a girlfriend or boyfriend). 

Reaching your own agreement

Keep in mind that the above factors are what a judge will consider when determining a party's alimony obligation, but you and your former spouse could reach your own agreement.

If you do, the court will typically adopt your agreement, assuming it is a reasonably fair alimony award. And doing so can save you time, money, and headache.

How long does alimony last in Florida?

How long alimony lasts in Florida depends on the type of alimony involved.

Both temporary and rehabilitative alimony are temporary payments aimed at allowing the requesting spouse to support themselves without the assistance of their former spouse. 

Bridge-the-gap alimony awards have a two-year maximum. 

Durational alimony is influenced by the length of your marriage, but cannot exceed the length of the marriage.

When does alimony end in Florida?

Alimony in Florida typically ends either pursuant to the original order or upon the occurrence of certain events. For instance, alimony will terminate if either spouse dies or the supported spouse remarries.

Can alimony be modified in Florida? 

Florida alimony laws allow some awards to be modified depending on the circumstances. Note that bridge-the-gap alimony cannot be modified, though, and that a court can change the amount but not the length of durational alimony in Florida (barring exceptional circumstances).

For other types of alimony in Florida, if there's a substantial change in circumstances–such as the death of either party, remarriage, or if the receiving spouse enters a supportive relationship–the court can review and modify the alimony order. 

Also, note that spouses could agree in writing that neither will ask the court to revisit their alimony award.

Involuntary loss of income

An involuntary loss of income is the most common reason for modifying alimony agreements in Florida. For instance, if the paying spouse loses their job, thereby affecting their ability to continue making alimony payments under the original order. 

When considering a modification request, the courts will consider each spouse's financial circumstances at the time of the original award in comparison to their financial circumstances when the modification is requested. 

Also, note that courts do not typically consider voluntary income reductions as justification for modifying alimony agreements.

FAQs about alimony in Florida

Is alimony taxable in Florida?

If your Florida divorce was finalized after January 1, 2019, then alimony payments are not tax-deductible for paying spouses and are also not taxable income for supported spouses.

What qualifies you for alimony in FL?

A common question is “who qualifies for alimony in Florida?” Alimony in Florida can be granted to either spouse. When determining whether to grant alimony, the courts consider if there's a need and ability. That is, a need by one spouse for financial support and the ability of the other spouse to pay. 

If a spouse qualifies to receive alimony, a judge will determine the amount, duration, and type of alimony based on several factors laid out in Florida’s alimony laws. The key issue that qualifies someone for alimony in FL, though, is the need for financial support.

How long do you have to be married to get alimony in Florida?

While there isn’t a minimum requirement mandating a specific length of marriage to receive alimony awards, the courts will consider the length of marriage when determining the type, duration, and amount of alimony.  

Does adultery affect alimony in Florida?

Adultery can affect alimony in Florida, but typically only if it financially impacted marital funds or property. In other words, if a spouse spent money on gifts or trips as part of carrying on an affair, a judge may consider this in calculating how much alimony to award. 

The Final Word on Alimony in Florida

So how does alimony work in Florida? Let's recap the main takeaways. 

There are four types of alimony available in FL: temporary, rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap, and durational. The type of alimony awarded will affect details such as how long it lasts and the size of the award.

Florida courts don’t use a specific formula to calculate the amount of alimony. Instead, the courts assess whether the requesting spouse has a demonstrable need and whether the other spouse has the ability to pay. If the court finds a “need and ability,” it then determines the amount, duration, and type of alimony to award. 

Remember, though, that you and your spouse can negotiate the terms of alimony awards without awaiting a judge's determination.