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Are Florida’s Outdated Alimony Laws Due for a Reform?


If you have ever been through a divorce in Florida, you will notice that the alimony laws are seriously outdated. They were written many decades ago, when divorces were not common and when they did occur, women were the ones who received alimony because they were never the breadwinners.

It’s now 2017, and things have changed tremendously since then. Today, half of all marriages end in divorce and it is estimated that in 38 percent of marriages, the wife earns more than the husband.

Alimony is a contentious issue for divorced couples. Nobody benefits from lifetime alimony, as it prevents all parties from moving on. The recipients have no incentive to work and the payors are forever connected to their former spouses, leading to contempt.

Florida law is still stuck in the 1950s, favoring lifelong alimony payments to women—even if they are young and healthy enough to work. This outdated law negatively affects everyone involved, including the payor, recipient, children and even the new spouses. That’s because income from the payor’s new spouse can be used toward alimony of their spouse’s ex-wife.

Talk about unfair. It’s no wonder that Florida residents are foregoing marriage.

Enter Senate Bill 412

Florida legislation has tried twice before—in 2013 and 2016—to update the state’s alimony laws. But both times the bills were vetoed by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Senate Bill 412 was hoping to change that. This bill would have better calculated alimony payments and set limits on combined child support and alimony payments. Unfortunately, in May, the Senate indefinitely postponed the bill and withdrew it from consideration.

So now it’s back to the drawing board for legislators. Will Florida ever see any positive changes to its alimony laws?

Types of Alimony in Florida

So if you do get divorced in Florida, what types of alimony might you come across?

  • Permanent periodic alimony. This is awarded in cases where the marriage lasted at least 17 years.
  • Durational alimony. If your marriage didn’t quite last 17 years, but you and your ex-spouse stayed married for at least seven years, you can receive durational alimony. You are awarded alimony only for as long as the marriage lasted. For example, if you were married for 10 years, you can receive 10 years of alimony.
  • Rehabilitative alimony. You can receive alimony only during the time in which you are under rehabilitation. During this time, the recipient must take appropriate steps to become self-sufficient, which may include going back to school to further one’s education or getting a job.
  • Bridge-the-gap alimony. This type of alimony was adopted into Florida law in 2010. It aims to assist with short-term needs and bridge the gap from being married to suddenly becoming single. It cannot be modified and can last no longer than two years.

Get Legal Help for Alimony Issues

 If you have issues or concerns or simply want to learn more about your rights when it comes to paying or receiving alimony, contact the Dade City family law attorneys at Madonna Law Group today. We can discuss income issues that may affect payments and help you move on after divorce. Schedule a consultation today by calling (800) 557-0411.


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