Upon close examination of the law and having applied it in many cases since its implementation, the new alimony law does not eliminate alimony and in fact specifically provides that a court may award more than one form of alimony. The court continues to be permitted to award a combination of forms of alimony or forms of payment, including lump sum payments in order to provide support for the recipient to achieve self-support.
The following forms of alimony currently exist in Florida:
- Bridge the Gap;
The statute redefined the terms of alimony as follows:
- Short Term Marriage – Less 10 years;
- Moderate Term Marriage – Between 10 – 20 years.
- Long Term Marriage – 20+ years.
The length of time a recipient can receive alimony are as follows :
- Bridge the Gap cannot exceed 2 years of alimony.
- Rehabilitative cannot exceed 5 years of alimony.
- Durational alimony may not be awarded in a marriage lasting less than 3 years.
- Durational alimony may not exceed:
- 50% of the length of a short-term marriage.
- 60% of the length of a moderate-term marriage.
- 75% of the length of a long -term marriage.
A person married for 30 years would therefore be entitled 22.5 years of durational alimony. That is still a substantial amount of time. Prior to the implementation of the alimony reform bill, the percentage of income for permanent alimony would never exceed 40% and could have been much less than 35% of the income of the obligor. Therefore, the new statute might provide for greater amounts of alimony especially because the Court can award more than one form of the above types of alimony. However, the alimony reform bill also conceivably made terminating or modifying alimony based on retirement an easier process than before.
The law was just enacted so the way the courts will implement terminating or modifying alimony remains to be seen.