Alimony is often the most controversial matter related to a couple’s divorce. Although the goal of divorce proceedings is to separate the finances of the affected spouses, alimony leads to an ongoing reliance of one spouse on the other after divorce.
Alimony primarily serves as a way to level the economic playing field when a married couple calls it quits. For example, one spouse who has sacrificed their personal income and career development for the benefit of the family can ask that the other provide them with financial support as part of their divorce. Alimony can help someone live independently after the end of a marriage and it can also serve as a bargaining tool when dividing assets in an uncontested manner.
Florida lawmakers have recently amended the laws on alimony in a way that reflects the frustration and irritation that many people who pay alimony as a result of a court order – not as a result of an uncontested agreement – frequently express.
There have been multiple significant changes
Those in long-term marriages were previously sometimes able to qualify for permanent alimony. Their spouse would have to pay them indefinitely to ensure they could maintain an independent household. The updates to Florida’s alimony statutes have eliminated court-ordered permanent alimony.
Spouses can now only seek rehabilitative alimony (in a contested divorce) that will allow them some financial support as they prepare to re-enter the workforce. Even that rehabilitative alimony is subject to new limitations. The courts can only order up to five years of rehabilitative alimony.
There are also specific requirements for scenarios in which one spouse must carry life insurance that pays the other spouse in the event of their death. The new law also allows the courts to terminate alimony any time there is proof that a new supportive relationship has begun.
These changes may drastically alter the economic circumstances of those affected. Both those who may need to pay alimony and those who may need to request it can benefit from seeking legal guidance accordingly, to better understand how these shifts in the legal landscape may impact them personally.