On June 30, 2023, a significant development in family law took place in Florida when Governor Ron DeSantis signed the alimony reform bill, SB 1416. The reform ushers in a new era in spousal support arrangements, bringing about crucial changes to the alimony landscape within the state.
With a focus on promoting fairness and stability, the measure abolishes permanent alimony and updates durational alimony, which offers support for a predetermined period based on the length of the marriage.
The new law affects all pending actions as of July 1, 2023, and those filed after that date.
Durational Alimony and Its Timeframes
Under SB 1416, durational alimony will be awarded for a set period, dependent on the length of the marriage. Short-term marriages, those lasting less than three years, are not eligible for durational alimony.
However, for marriages of longer duration, the following guidelines will be applied:
- For marriages of less than 10 years (short-term), durational alimony may be awarded for 50% of the marriage's length.
- For marriages lasting between 10 to 20 years (moderate-term), durational alimony may be awarded for 60% of the marriage's length.
- For marriages of 20 years or more (long-term), durational alimony may be awarded for 75% of the marriage's length.
Extending Durational Alimony
In exceptional circumstances, durational alimony may be extended beyond the set period. However, the party seeking it must prove by clear and convincing evidence that such an extension is necessary. The court will carefully consider various factors before making a decision, maintaining a balance between the rights and responsibilities of both parties.
Determining Alimony Amounts
To receive durational alimony, the party seeking support will have the burden of proving their need for assistance and the other party's ability to pay. The requirement ensures that alimony is awarded judiciously, considering both parties' financial circumstances.
The amount of durational alimony will be based on the seeking party's reasonable need or 35% of the difference between the net incomes of both parties, whichever is less.
Supportive Relationships and Alimony
The reform introduces a provision that reduces or terminates alimony when the receiving party is or was in a supportive relationship within the last 365 days. The onus is on the payor to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that such a relationship existed. If this burden is met, the receiving party must then demonstrate why alimony should not be reduced or terminated.
Retirement Age and Alimony
SB 1416 also allows the court to reduce or terminate alimony when the paying party reaches normal retirement age. To achieve this, the payor must prove that retirement has significantly reduced their ability to continue paying support.
Contact a Lawyer for Legal Help
In the ever-changing landscape of family law, seeking professional legal assistance for divorce-related matters has become more crucial than ever. With the recent alimony reform brought forth by Florida's SB 1416, navigating the complexities of spousal support and modifications demands skilled guidance and strategic counsel. At Buckmaster & Ellzey, our Daytona Beach team stands ready to assist clients with compassion, insights, and unwavering support.
Schedule a consultation by calling us at (888) 785-6548 today.