How Does Alimony Work in Florida?

Are you going through a divorce in Florida? If so, you likely have many questions during this challenging time. One big question is: “How does alimony work in Florida?”

Alimony laws are different in each state. Even the words used can vary – in some places, it’s called “spousal support” instead of alimony.

So let’s break down how alimony works in the Sunshine State.

How Does Alimony Work in Florida?

How Does Alimony Work in Florida

We’ll cover what types there are, how amounts get decided, recent law changes, and more.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is money that one ex-spouse pays to financially support the other after a divorce.

In Florida, it’s still called “alimony” officially. Other states may say “spousal support” or “maintenance” instead.

Alimony payments in Florida can differ quite a bit from case to case.

The amount, how long it lasts, and the way it’s paid is decided based on each couple’s unique situation. More on this below.

Florida Alimony Reform in 2023

In 2023, a new Florida law made some big changes to alimony rules. The key things to know about this law are:

  • It’s not retroactive. Meaning, that it only applies to divorce cases filed July 1, 2023, or later. It doesn’t change any alimony orders from before that date.
  • Permanent (lifetime) alimony is no longer allowed. Now there are just 3 types: bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and durational.
  • There are new limits on how long rehabilitative and durational alimony can last.
  • There are also new caps on durational alimony amounts.
  • Rules were added about what happens when the person paying alimony retires.
  • If the person getting alimony payments enters a new relationship, the payments may get reduced or end.

Let’s look at some of these changes in more detail.

No More Permanent Alimony

One of the biggest changes is getting rid of permanent alimony awards.

These used to provide the lower-earning spouse with lifetime support after divorce. But the 2023 law eliminated this option going forward.

New Time Limits on Rehabilitative Alimony Rehabilitative alimony helps a spouse get education or job training so they can support themselves.

It used to have no set end date. Now, it can only last a maximum of 5 years under the new law.

Caps on Durational Alimony

Length The 2023 law also put new restrictions on how long durational alimony can last:

Marriage Length Maximum Alimony Length
Under 3 years No durational alimony
3-10 years 50% of marriage length
10-20 years 60% of marriage length
Over 20 years 75% of marriage length

*A judge can go beyond these caps in special cases, like disability.

Limits on Durational Alimony Amounts

In addition to the time limits above, the new law caps durational alimony amounts too.

Now, it can’t be more than the lesser of:

  • What the recipient needs, or
  • 35% of the difference between the spouses’ incomes

Impact of Paying Spouse’s Retirement

Under the 2023 changes, the paying ex-spouse can request an alimony adjustment within 6 months before retiring. The court will then review if the amount should change based on various factors.

Recipient’s New Relationship Can End Alimony

Another key update – the new law says a judge must end or reduce alimony if the recipient enters a new “supportive relationship.”

The paying ex has to first show evidence of this type of relationship existing. The recipient then has a chance to argue why the alimony shouldn’t change if desired. However, the assumption is that the payments will stop or decrease if a supportive new relationship is proven.

Types of Alimony Awards in Florida

So what kinds of alimony are available in a Florida divorce today? There used to be five options, but permanent alimony was eliminated in the 2023 reform.

Now there are four types:

  1. Temporary
  2. Bridge-the-Gap
  3. Rehabilitative
  4. Durational

The judge decides which form is appropriate for a divorcing couple. They also determine if it should be paid as a lump sum or in regular installments. Periodic payments are more common.

Let’s define each of the four current types of Florida alimony.

Temporary Alimony

This is alimony paid during the divorce process itself before it’s finalized. The goal is to let the lower-earning spouse stay financially afloat while the case is pending. It automatically ends once the divorce is completed.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

Florida is one of the only states that offers this unique type of short-term alimony. As the name suggests, it “bridges the gap” while a newly divorced person adjusts to a single life.

For example, it can help them cover bills for a limited time while they reenter the workforce or wait for the family home to sell.

Key things to know:

  • Can’t exceed 2 years
  • Can’t be modified later
  • Ends if either the ex dies or the recipient remarries

Rehabilitative Alimony

The most common type of alimony in Florida. It’s meant to temporarily support an ex while they gain the education or work skills needed to get a job and be self-sufficient.

To qualify, the person seeking this support has to give the court a “rehabilitative plan” showing their training/education goals and timeline. As noted earlier, the 2023 law put a 5-year maximum on rehabilitative alimony length.

Durational Alimony

This is alimony paid for a pre-set length of time after the divorce. It acknowledges that the recipient needs financial help for a period, but not forever.

Some key points about durational alimony in Florida:

  • Limited to 50-75% of the marriage length, depending on how long the marriage lasted (see table earlier)
  • Can’t exceed the length of the marriage itself (so max 10 years of alimony for a 10-year marriage)
  • Amount can be modified later if circumstances substantially change
  • Length can only change in exceptional cases

While rehabilitative alimony is for a specific purpose (education/training), durational alimony is more general support for a set period after divorce. Both are temporary and have time restrictions under current Florida law.

How is Alimony Calculated in Florida?

Florida courts don’t use a standard formula to decide alimony amounts. Instead, it’s a two-step process:

  1. Determine if alimony is appropriate.
  2. If yes, decide the details based on several factors.

To answer #1, the judge looks at whether the requesting spouse demonstrates a real need for support and if the other spouse has the financial means to pay.

If this “need and ability” exists, the court moves on to step #2. They evaluate various factors to determine the type, amount, and duration of alimony, including:

  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s earning potential (education, job skills, etc.)
  • Each spouse’s assets and debts
  • Non-economic contributions to the marriage
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Tax consequences
  • Adultery’s impact on marital finances (e.g. if a spouse spent money on an affair)
  • “Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties”

As you can see, it’s a very case-by-case analysis. The judge has a lot of leeway to consider the couple’s full circumstances. With the “any other factor” catch-all, they can weigh anything they feel is relevant.

Because it’s so individualized, it’s hard to give an average or typical alimony amount in Florida. But the court does aim to ensure the recipient’s income doesn’t exceed the payor’s in the end, absent special circumstances.

Option to Settle Alimony Yourselves

Keep in mind, that the factors above are what a judge weighs if they have to decide the alimony terms. But you and your spouse can negotiate alimony yourselves and put it in your divorce settlement.

If you agree on an amount, length, etc., the court will usually approve it – unless it seems extremely unfair to one side. Reaching an agreement on your own can save a lot of time, money, and stress compared to having a judge decide.

How Long Does Alimony Last in Florida?

The duration of alimony in Florida varies based on the type. As covered earlier:

  • Temporary alimony ends when the divorce is final
  • Bridge-the-gap alimony can’t exceed 2 years
  • Rehabilitative alimony now has a 5-year maximum
  • Durational alimony is limited to 50-75% of the marriage length

Whereas before 2023, rehabilitative and durational alimony could sometimes last longer in certain cases. And permanent alimony could extend indefinitely.

But those options are no longer available under current Florida alimony law. All alimony today is limited to a set period, not for life.

When Does Florida Alimony End?

Alimony ends in Florida either:

  1. On the end date in the original order, or.
  2. If a terminating event occurs before then.

Terminating events that can automatically stop alimony are:

  • Either ex-spouse dies.
  • The recipient remarries.
  • The recipient enters a “supportive relationship” (for alimony decided July 2023 or later).

Can Florida Alimony Be Modified? Sometimes. It depends on the type of alimony.

In general:

  • Bridge-the-gap alimony can never be modified.
  • Rehabilitative and durational alimony can only have the amount changed, not the duration (except in rare cases).
  • Other alimony can be revisited if there’s a substantial change in circumstances.

Substantial changes that may justify an alimony adjustment include:

  • Involuntary job loss.
  • A major health issue.
  • Recipient’s remarriage.
  • Recipient’s “supportive relationship”.

The last two events can even terminate alimony entirely, as noted above. The first two would just impact the payment amount.

When a modification is requested, the court compares both parties’ financial pictures from the initial order to the current situation.

The change in circumstances has to be significant, involuntary, and not foreseeable.

Voluntary Income Reduction Usually Doesn’t Count

It’s important to know that if a payor spouse voluntarily quits a job or takes a lower-paying one, that alone usually won’t justify lowering alimony. Florida courts typically don’t allow voluntary income reductions to be the basis for a modification.

The idea is to prevent people from purposely earning less to avoid their alimony obligations. Only involuntary, unplanned income drops tend to qualify for a change.

No Modification if You Both Agree

One more caveat – you and your spouse can put language in your divorce settlement saying neither of you can ever come back to court to change the alimony terms.

If you both agree to this when finalizing your divorce, you’re stuck with what you agreed to.

So it’s important to think through if you’re okay with the alimony continuing no matter what changes may happen later.

Sometimes people prefer the certainty of knowing it’s locked in. But you may want to leave the door open for modifications if needed.

FAQs about Alimony in Florida

Here are some other common questions about Florida alimony.

  • Is alimony taxable income in Florida?

Not anymore. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed the federal tax treatment of alimony starting January 1, 2019.

  • For divorces finalized before that date, alimony is tax-deductible to the payor and counted as taxable income to the recipient.
  • For divorces finalized on January 1, 2019, or after, alimony is not deductible or taxable to either party. The payor pays taxes on the money before giving it to the recipient, who then receives it tax-free.
  • Who qualifies for alimony in Florida?

There’s no gender restriction – either spouse can ask for alimony in a Florida divorce.

Same-sex spouses can also seek alimony since gay marriage became legal in 2015.

The key is demonstrating that one spouse requires support and the other can pay.

If the court finds there is “need and ability,” they’ll evaluate the factors covered earlier to decide the amount, duration, and type.

  • How many years do you have to be married to get alimony in Florida?

Florida law doesn’t set a minimum marriage length to qualify for alimony. Though in practice, it’s uncommon in very short marriages.

The marriage duration is a key factor the court weighs when deciding the type and length of alimony to award. For example:

  • Marriages under 3 years don’t qualify for durational alimony now.
  • The shorter the marriage, the less likely any substantial alimony award is.
  • Permanent alimony used to be more common after 17+ years of marriage (no longer allowed today).

So while there’s no bright line rule, alimony is more likely the longer a couple was wed. Especially once you hit 3, 10, and 20 year milestones. But judges evaluate the full picture of each marriage.

  • What if my spouse cheated – does that affect alimony?

In Florida, judges can consider adultery when deciding alimony – but usually only if it impacted the couple’s finances.

For example, if a spouse spent significant money on gifts, trips, or housing related to an affair, the court may factor that into the alimony award. But if the infidelity was more of an emotional betrayal, it likely won’t have much bearing on alimony.

Also Check: How Much Does It Cost to Get a Lawyer for Guardianship


Alimony is a complex issue in any divorce. If you’re ending a marriage in Florida, it’s important to understand how it works and what to expect.

The 2023 alimony reform made some major changes, including eliminating permanent alimony and capping the length and amount of durational support. Rehabilitative alimony now has a 5-year maximum as well.

The type and degree of alimony awarded still varies a lot based on each couple’s unique circumstances. Courts weigh many factors like the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, the marital lifestyle, and more.

Because the analysis is so case-by-case, it’s hard to predict the typical alimony outcome in Florida. Your best bet is to consult an experienced family law attorney to understand your rights and options.

Better yet, see if you and your spouse can agree on alimony terms yourselves to put in your divorce settlement. Negotiating a fair arrangement can save you the time, expense, and stress of a court battle.

The most important thing is to stay informed and engaged in the process. Whether you expect to pay or receive alimony, it can have a big impact on your financial future after divorce.

Make sure you understand the current laws and work to reach a result that feels fair to you.

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