Alimony Changes: How They Can Affect You
Though the sweeping changes to Florida alimony law didn’t make many headlines, the alterations that took effect July 1 can profoundly affect a divorcing person’s financial life.
The changes bring some clarity to what has long been a cloudy area of family law. Judges now have guidance in making alimony awards after they have determined the financial status of the couple involved. As before, a court will look at a number of factors as it determines whether alimony should be granted, and if so, in what amount. Those factors include:
- The standard of living enjoyed by the couple
- The duration of the marriage
- Age and physical and mental condition of the parties
- The financial resources of each party
- Earning capacity, as well as education, skills and employability of the parties
- Contributions by the parties to the marriage
- Any other factors the court determines are relevant to an equitable alimony arrangement
The new law divides marriages into three categories of duration:
- Short-term: less than seven years of marriage
- Moderate: between seven and 17 years
- Long-term: more than 17 years of marriage
The new alimony laws now in effect create different forms of alimony. These forms are divided into the following categories:
- Bridge-the-gap alimony: this provides support allowing a party to make the transition from marriage to single life, helping with short-term financial needs. This form of alimony will not exceed two years; the length or amount of bridge-the-gap alimony can’t be modified.
- Rehabilitative: this form of alimony is to help a party become self-supporting by redeveloping previous skills or credentials or acquiring through education or training skills or credentials.
- Durational: this alimony follows a short-term marriage or marriage of moderate duration. It’s paid for a court-determined length of time not to exceed the length of the marriage itself.
- Permanent: can be awarded after a marriage of moderate duration or long-term marriage to provide for needs and necessities established in the marriage.
It should be noted that the new law cannot be used as the basis for a modification of an alimony award determined before July 1 of this year.
Florida alimony law is new and complex. Florida divorce attorneys study family law and how it can be best applied to clients facing divorce involving disputes over alimony, child support, child custody, property division and other areas.