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New Law Brings Substantial Changes to Divorce in Florida
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New Law Brings Substantial Changes to Divorce in Florida

March 12, 2024 Professional Services Industry Legal Blog

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Florida divorces will now look quite different due to the passage of Senate Bill 1416. With the passage of SB1416, certain forms of alimony are eliminated and the threshold for alternating alimony awards has changed. As alimony is often one of the most hotly contested issues in a divorce, understanding the types available, as well as the potential for changes to the award amount years down the road are crucial.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other spouse to provide post-marriage financial support. Depending on several circumstances and factors, alimony can be in the form of one lump sum payment or the form of monthly payments over the years. In Florida, there were previously four types of alimony: permanent, temporary, bridge-the-gap, and rehabilitative. However, with the passage of SB1416, permanent alimony has now been eliminated. This means that any alimony award will now have a definitive end date. Additionally, with the passage of SB1416, it is now permissible for a court to consider the adultery of either spouse in determining the amount of an alimony award.

Modifications to Alimony Awards

Alimony awards may be modified upon a substantial change in circumstances of the ex-spouses or upon the formation of a supportive relationship for the spouse receiving alimony. Before the passage of SB1416, criteria for modification of an alimony award were largely based on loosely defined, court-created concepts. However, SB1416 enhances the statutory guardrails for courts considering modification of alimony awards, specifically in the context of supportive relationships and the retirement of the payor spouse.

Supportive Relationships

When the payee spouse enters into a supportive relationship, this is generally grounds for reducing or terminating alimony payments. Prior to the passage of SB1416, courts had some discretion as to whether a reduction in alimony was warranted upon finding that a supportive relationship exists. Now, upon findings of a supportive relationship, the court must reduce or terminate the alimony award. When determining whether a supportive relationship exists, courts are now required to employ a burden shifting framework. This means that the payor spouse must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that such a relationship exists. The burden then shifts to the payee spouse to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the court should not reduce or terminate alimony.

Retirement of the Payor Spouse

For a long time, alimony and retirement have been an issue of intensive debate. Many payor spouses claim that they are unable to retire without a reduction or termination of their alimony obligations, and many state they do not retire when they planned or want to retire due to the financial burden of alimony. Prior to SB1416, Florida courts had created the “reasonable retirement” concept. See Pimm v. Pimm, 601 So. 2d 534 (Fla. 19992) (“In determining whether a voluntary retirement is reasonable, the court must consider the payor’s age, health, and motivation for retirement, as well as the type of work the payor performs and the age at which others engaged in that line of work normally retire.”). SB1416 codifies the reduction of alimony awards upon retirement, including the specific process and factors that courts must consider when determining whether the alimony award should be reduced or terminated. This change is substantial to currently divorced parties, as it increases the likelihood that alimony awards will be reduced upon the payor spouse’s retirement.

Additional Statutory Changes

In addition to impacting alimony, SB1416 also alters certain aspects of child custody determinations. Specifically, SB1416 sets forth that a parent who lives further than 50 miles from the child’s primary residence can establish a substantial change in circumstances as grounds for modification of time-sharing plans, if that parent moves to a residence within 50 miles of the primary residence of their child. Additionally, SB1416 eliminates the requirement that a party show their change in circumstances was unanticipated prior to the court considering a modification of parenting plan and time-sharing schedule.


Divorce proceedings, marital settlements, parenting plans, and future modifications will now look substantially different in this State. Whether currently considering a divorce or seeking modification of current alimony or parenting plans, understanding the recent changes to Florida’s divorce laws is key to being able to exercise your rights. If you are considering divorce or considering pursuing a modification of your current marital settlement or dissolution judgment, the experienced attorneys at Jimerson Birr are ready to assist you.

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