Florida Permanent Alimony Law Changes Again


In Florida permanent alimony – the kind that is paid every month until the recipient remarries or one you dies – is once again being changed by the Florida Legislature. For the past decade there has been a legal presumption that permanent alimony is the proper type to award after a long term marriage. Even before the 2010 changes, this was the way alimony awards worked in Florida. Now we have additional changes that take effect on July 1, 2011.

Permanent Alimony Changes

In 2010 the Legislature got involved and tinkered with the alimony law. At that time, the Florida legislature wrote into the law most of the terms that the court decisions had required. I used to call them the unwritten rules of Florida alimony. Then this last legislative session involved even bigger changes to Florida Statute 61.08, the Florida alimony law, especially for Florida permanent alimony. Starting on July 1, 2011, the court must make a finding when it awards permanent alimony that no other type of alimony is “fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties.”

Also inserted is a requirement that when Florida permanent alimony is awarded after a moderate term marriage, there must be clear and convincing evidence that permanent alimony is appropriate type of alimony to award.

The third change is that an award of Florida permanent alimony cannot leave the payor spouse with significantly less net income than that of the receiving spouse, unless there are exceptional circumstances. I agree that this change makes sense and was necessary.

Permanent Alimony and the 2011 Changes

I also believe that the impact of these changes continue the trend of devaluing “women’s work” of being a stay at home mother. Make no mistake about it, there is an organized movement afoot in our state that wants to see Florida permanent alimony totally abolished.

I believe that the requirement that the judge make a written determination that no other type of alimony is fair and reasonable sends a message to judges that they should limit awards of permanent alimony. This is likely to make judges reluctant to award Florida permanent alimony after the changes go into effect on July 1, 2011.

What do you think about this change to the Florida permanent alimony laws?



13 thoughts on “Florida Permanent Alimony Law Changes Again

  • Robin Scher

    Pam,

    You couldn’t be more correct about the intent behind the law changes this year… they came from ‘on high’ in the legislature and a battle royale with the Family Law Section who would not support the initial versions of the Bill seeking changes to alimony which were worse. These changes were a compromise finally reached between the Legislature, and our very knowledgeable legislative team after much debate and politicking as it was made clear that until some inroads (the 2010 changes weren’t sufficient for those seeking to outright abolish alimony) were made to alimony any other legislation the Section sponsored and lobbied would go nowhere! The more I am involved in the legislative process the more I agree with what I have often heard about food in restaurants … you never want to see it being made!

  • A. Brown

    There is no de-valuing of women’s work as a homemaker. I’ve done that, and gotten divorced and NOT asked for alimony… forever till the day i die.. Why should my ex husband be forced to pay me forever, just because i get divorced. Some women need help to get on their feet.. yes. for a few years.. but forever? You need to read some of the real life stories of what this does. If the tables were turned i;m sure you wouldn’t want to be paying a man for the rest of your life. Someone could potentially get divorced after 20 years of marriage in their 40’s and pay for 40 plus years to someone that divorced them.. Crazy! We don’t have to be forced to pay for our children forever , why another healthy adult.. You have no idea, how illogical and crazy these laws are.. You must be on the receiving end of the free check.. How about the men, who’s wives cheated on them, and left them and then they have to pay her forever.. for her and her boyfriend to enjoy “the lifestyle accostomed too”.. Sorry, i believe , help someone for a reasonable time, then they should be accountable for themselves. If you need welfare, apply… Someone else should be your free check. If so, then we need to move from a no fault state.. because if it’s no fault, then you can[‘t give someone a life sentence to pay forever. Have some respect and work hard and make your own money..

    • Laura Davis

      Then…let’s start paying women who raise wonderful children and attend to every need…at home, at school, on the athletic fields, music lessons, doctor’s appts on and on ….for over 28 years while their often unfaithful husbands put on their suits and go to job that is generally far easier. Consider the career sacrifices made by these (misnomer) stay at home….moms!! ARe you kidding…these Mom’s are almost never home with the many real and important needs of raising a family. SO….PAY THEM A SALARY….A LARGE SALARY…and then make this stupid argument..I really think this was written by a man!

  • Joe

    Alimony is all about the States and attorneys. States don’t want dependents; attorneys know a fight for alimony can pay for the latest toy out there. Unfortunately, because of this, a lot of people have no motivation to do anything with their lives. Give me a break!! Someone able to work should work. If mom (or dad) wants to stay home, fine! Get a job they can do from home. But again, why should he/she do that if a paycheck comes from the ex without effort. That is a recipe for disaster. This country was founded on hard working individuals. It is a shame what we have become. And the economy continues to suffer because no one is motivated to educate themselves, to invent, to create new things. NOOOO! We rather suck the life of some poor sap.
    Of course, there are a few, very few times when an individual should be cared for for life. If the person is in a comma or over 65 at the time of divorce. All others must be productive members of society. That is the only way we, as a country, will get out of this economic slump.

    • Paul Cooper

      When my wife decided to take up her life with our son’s Boy Scout Leader in 2008, I was in shock and disbelief, and I felt betrayed. I was 38 years old at the time.

      Now, close to three years later, my shock, disbelief and feelings of betrayal have shifted solely toward our ‘justice system’; as I am indigent, and unable to survive without loans from family/friends.

      I’m sharing my story, not from disgruntlement, but rather bewilderment, as there seem to be some skewed perspectives (or perhaps biases between judges and attorneys), and subsequent rulings within the 12th Circuit Court in Sarasota County, based on the following facts:
      I am obligated to pay my ex-wife’s rent;
      I am obligated to pay my ex-wife’s groceries;
      I am obligated to pay my ex-wife’s tuition (she claimed “Self-Employment”) to work for her boyfriend and takes 12 unit hours at a local community college;
      I am obligated to pay haf of all my children’s medical expenses;
      I am obligated to provide health, dental and life insurance to a family of five;
      I am not permitted to claim any of my children on my taxes (although I am responsible for half of the parenting time);
      In addition to child support, I have been ordered to pay permanent periodic alimony on a 14 year marriage;
      I was also ordered to pay child support and alimony arrearages exceeding my life savings.

      The above distributions are based on my 2009 income, which is 33% more than what I am currently earning working full time.

      As a result, my portion to live on is approximately $900 net/month (for my rent, groceries, phone, auto-insurance/gas/repairs, utilities, etc.). Over $2,000 is deducted from my pay each month forcing me to seek an additional (2nd) full time job.

      There are many details that I left out, but after two failed mediation attempts, a lower court divorce ruling, and denied appeal, I am now literally at my wits end and broke.

      I am a devoted father of three (ages 11, 14 and 21); and I am a hardworking and dedicated professional, who has been contributing to ‘the system’ for 17 years asking myself “What did I do to deserve this?

  • G. G.

    I don’t understand people that argue FOR lifetime alimony. In my case, my wife and I were married 18 years. We both worked the entire time. I make more because I put in the effort to go to college which was paid for by my work, at no cost to us. I worked full time as I went to college.

    We both took care of household chores. I cooked, we both cleaned, etc…

    For a year and a half, she left me and our daughters to pursue other interests out of state. She was gone 50% of the entire year, returning on weekends, abandoning her job and her family. I file for divorce due to her absence. She comes back and blames her lack of income (based on commission) on the economy, having nothing to do with her being out of state. She claims now to make $0 and I am paying temporary alimony and child support based off that amount. On top of that, though she was gone and I had my girls for the year and a half, she still gets majority time share with our daughters.

    I am scared to death of lifetime alimony. I’m 39. She’s 42. Why should I be paying alimony for the rest of my life when her income is based off of her life choices? We both worked. We were married 9 years before we had our first child and she had as much opportunity as I did to better herself. Her family was rich and would have paid for her to go college anywhere. My income is based upon the effort I put into my life. Hers is too. Yet, they want to take mine away for the rest of my life to give it to her?

    Lifetime alimony shouldn’t even be on the table in cases like mine yet it is. I agree with Joe, if someone is able to work, they shouldn’t be the responsibility of an ex-spouse.

  • kevin

    I am a man married for 9 years to a woman with no children. I was given lifetime alimony in Florida court to her. We were married in our thirties and divorced in our 40’s and I have been paying her now for 7 years with the prospect of paying another 20 years (and then praying for a reduction at retirement). A court system that creates these kinds of penalties is insane and unjust. I have no problem with several years of alimony to help with income inequality, as I certainly made a lot more money than she did, but not because of her nurturing support or sacrifice in our youth. We were already older when we met. It should be abolished as a general practice.

  • Amy

    There should be alimony and the permanent one like in my case. I gave up my career and moved global for my husbands job 10 times, delivered our 3 beautiful kids, cared of homes, relocation, renovation, schools, kids and problems.
    He was mostly away and wanted to go away often, while I had all burden and problems to solve myself. He was proud to be married to the power woman and family manager.
    After 18 yrs he left us 4 per letter just walked away, left with debts, mortgage behind, unpaid bills,
    emotional pain and therapies, no securities…..just turned into different person and father over night, declaring his right on a new life with 35 younger chinese hooker, who is obviously behind the papers to come to the USA.
    I had done extreme victims for his career and home, now mid of forties, have to start from the scratch alone with 3 traumatized growing kids.
    Why there should not be durational or permanent alimony ? To give a cheating ex and irresponsible father more money for a new younger wife and less for one of two decades victims. That will be not right – so yes to permanent alimony and in this economy triple mom has to raise kids and can not find a decent job, while ex makes a fortune. So yes to permanent alimony forever !!!

    • Randall

      Amy,

      I think you are very wrong. Nobody forced you to have three children and I bet you wanted that. Then you write as if you did a favor to him by having them and giving up your career to be a mom. I read this all the time – a woman wants kids and then following a divorce, feels the man owes an un-repayable debt because she had them. You made your choices in life and he should not be held accountable. Reasonable child support? Yes. Supporting you? No way. Stop being a vampire and take responsibility for yourself.

  • Raven Severit

    I am a female who was married for 8 years in the state of Florida. I denied alimony in my case as I do not beleive in the law. Where does an individual get the thought process that they are entitled to someone’s money just because they “were” married to another individual. I find females who think they are entitled a disgrace to our gender. They should have 2 years to get on their feet and alimony should end or decrease over time. Why should a man have to work everyday to still be in financial restraints when we are in a no fault state? Especially when it is her decision to resolve the marriage. His money was a privilege of being married to him not a right. This law needs to be changed and I would love to get a petition to the state started.

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