Florida Alimony Reform 2021

Introduction

There are a lot of questions regarding Florida Alimony Reform in 2021. In particular is the question of permanent alimony, which is alimony that is paid indefinitely unless there is a court order ending it. In this post, I’m going to answer some of the most common questions regarding this type of alimony.

How is Alimony determined In Florida?

First, regardless of the type of alimony you seek, the court starts with the following formula:

Does a party have a need for alimony? If yes, they will ask does the other party has the ability to pay. If the courts answer this question with a yes as well, then it is possible to obtain alimony or owe alimony.

How do you qualify for permanent alimony in Florida?

Normally, you have to be married for at least 17 years before a court will consider permanent alimony. If so then the court will consider whatever factors it finds as relevant to determine what amount of alimony is right. For example, they will consider:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Standard of living achieved during the marriage.
  • Age and physical condition of each party.
  • Financial resources of each party, including marital, non-marital and debts.

Unlike child support, the court can consider any factor it wants to determine alimony.

Does Permanent Alimony end at retirement in Florida?

Ah, retirement! Does this golden age mean that a person gets to retire from paying alimony as well? The short answer is no, at least not automatically. You can petition the court to modify the amount you pay or terminate all together. For one thing, the court will look at the reasonableness of retirement. For example, if you retire at 45 and are in perfect health, the court will probably not find this reasonable! But, if you are 67, have medically proven limitations on your ability to earn what you used to earn, the court could reduce or eliminate alimony.

What is the average alimony payment in Florida?

Unlike other areas of family law such as child support, there is no formula for calculating alimony. As mentioned above, the court must first find a need for alimony and that the other party has the ability to pay. One popular method to determine alimony is to take 30% of the gross income of the payor spouse minus 20% of the net income of the payee spouse (the spouse who gets alimony).

Florida Alimony Reform 2021

In the last several years there have been numerous attempts to modify Florida’s permanent alimony laws. Check out Attorney’s Ayo and Iken’s page for an extensive review (opens in new tab) of the history of trying to change the law of permanent alimony. In summary, though, the law on permanent alimony hasn’t changed despite these efforts. Thus, Florida is one of the few states that still allows permanent alimony. This doesn’t appear to be changing soon.

How to stop alimony payments in Florida?

Recall that there are several types of alimony in Florida. For example, durational alimony will end at the term ordered by the court. However, if you have been ordered to pay permanent alimony then you will need a different strategy. Under Florida Law 61.14, alimony can be changed or terminated if there has been a substantial change in circumstances from when the alimony was first ordered. What this means will depend on the facts of your case. A common example is when the party paying alimony becomes injured or ill and cannot earn what he or she did previously. Also, if your ex-spouse remarries you have grounds to terminate alimony.

How to avoid alimony in Florida

Until the judge signs the order of alimony you have the opportunity to avoid paying altogether. Let’s look at some of the best ways to avoid alimony in Florida.

Prenuptial Agreements and Post-nuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements can take a lot of the stress out of deciding on alimony.

Prenuptial agreements are common these days and there are a lot of resources on the web on how to draft one. (Opens in new tab). They are an effective way to plan for alimony if you file for divorce. A post-nuptial agreement is an agreement signed after marriage which can spell out what would happen in the event of a divorce.

When does alimony end in Florida?

The general rule is that permanent alimony ends when one the paying spouse dies or the spouse receives alimony remarries. Another way to terminate alimony is by an agreement with your ex-spouse. For example, he or she is being financially supported by someone. Also, as I mentioned above, you could prove to the court that your financial circumstances have changed due to illness or retirement.

Summary

Florida allows for permanent alimony in a marriage that lasts for 17 years or more. You must prove that one spouse has the need for alimony and the other spouse has the ability to pay. Permanent alimony lasts until the court says otherwise. The most common ways to terminate permanent alimony are: when the paying spouse dies or the spouse getting alimony remarries. Otherwise, if you want to stop paying alimony, you must prove to the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances.

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Joel Lipinski is a family law attorney located in Tampa Bay. He can be reached at 727-643-8964 or on his Google Page.