Alimony in Florida

Alimony occurs when one spouse pays the other for varying lengths of time during or after a divorce. Alimony in Florida is granted on a case-by-case basis; generally with a higher-income earning spouse paying the lower earner.

The 2023 Florida Statutes explain that Florida offers four types of alimony: durational, rehabilitative, temporary, and bridge-the-gap.

The length of the marriage plays a role in determining alimony. According to law:

  • A short-term marriage has a duration of under 10 years
  • A moderate-term marriage has a duration of 10 to 20 years
  • A long-term marriage has a duration of 20 years or more

Alimony payments may be provided periodically or in a lump sum.

Durational Alimony

Durational alimony aims to keep both spouses at the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage for a set period of time. This type of alimony is not awarded if the marriage lasts less than three years.

The period of time that alimony is awarded varies depending on the length of the marriage. Durational alimony may not exceed 50% of the length of a short-term marriage, 60% of the length of a moderate-term marriage, or 75% of the length of a long-term marriage. In certain circumstances, the court may extend the term of durational alimony.

Rehabilitative Alimony

This alimony aims at getting the spouse who may have had to leave the workforce or an education for the marriage's sake to get back on his or her feet. Awarded rehabilitative alimony should assist a spouse in finishing his or her education or developing employment skills. To receive this alimony, the spouse must present a plan of how the awarded money will go towards furthering his or her career. The length of rehabilitative alimony may not exceed five years.

Temporary Alimony

A more common form of alimony, this requires the spouse with the higher income to help cover short-term costs for a spouse with financial needs. The lower-earning spouse will receive support from the time the divorce is filed until the judge finalizes the divorce. The alimony ends once the divorce is finalized.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

With a two year maximum, bridge-the-gap alimony in Florida is meant to assist a spouse with his or her legitimate and identifiable short-term needs. This alimony will usually cover costs for a spouse to educate him or herself, to cover living expenses while waiting for a house to sell, and similar things.

Lump Sum and Periodic Alimony

When alimony is awarded, the court may order lump sum or periodic payments. Lump sum is a one-time payment. Periodic alimony is paid out over time.

Factors Determining Alimony

Alimony will not be awarded if a judge thinks the paying spouse will become financially strained or if the alimony would give the receiving spouse more net income than the paying spouse.

The following are factors a court will consider before awarding alimony:

  • Standard of living during marriage
  • Length of marriage
  • The age, physical, mental, and emotional condition of each party
  • Both parties’ financial resources and income, including marital and non-marital assets
  • The earning capacities of both spouses, which includes employability, education level, and vocational skills
  • Both spouses' contributions to the marriage, including child care, education, homemaking, and career building
  • Responsibilities in regards to minor children the parties have in common, with special consideration for children with a physical or mental disability
  • Other factors that need to be considered to do both parties justice

It is important to remember the courts count a marriage as over the day the divorce was filed, not when the couple started living apart. It's also worth noting that if one spouse committed adultery or a wrong that cost the other spouse financially, that will be factored into alimony consideration.

Alimony Modification

Different alimony types have different modification requirements. Bridge-the-gap alimony does not allow for any changes. Rehabilitative alimony may change if the receiver does not adhere to the plan he or she created or if the plan is completed early. If the financial circumstances change for either spouse in rehabilitative or durational alimony, the alimony may be subject to change. However, the length of durational alimony hardly ever changes, though the amount given might. If either spouse dies, durational alimony automatically ends.

Taxes and Alimony

Tax rules related to alimony in Florida changed in January 2019. If your divorce was finalized on or after January 1, 2019, you cannot deduct alimony payments on your tax return, and the recipient does not pay taxes on payments.

Prior to this date, the person paying alimony qualified for a tax deduction, and alimony payments were considered taxable income for recipients.