Guide to Spousal Support in 2024

Spousal support, also called alimony, is a financial provision given from one spouse to another during divorce proceedings. Spousal support is most often given from a higher-earning spouse to a lesser-earning spouse to ease the transition from married to single life and maintain their standard of living once the divorce is finalized. In the last year, new legislation passed that changed how spousal support is awarded and applies to divorce cases filed after July 1, 2023. Here is your comprehensive guide to navigating spousal support in Florida in 2024.

What’s The Purpose of Spousal Support? 

Spousal support is granted to help a lesser-earning spouse maintain their lifestyle as they transition from married to single life. Spousal support is ordered for a specific period after the divorce is finalized. To be granted spousal support, you must prove you have the financial need for it and that your ex has the financial means to make the proposed payments. 

Who Can Request Spousal Support? 

Spousal support isn’t required but can be requested by either spouse during a divorce. You can request spousal support in your initial Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage, which is the first step in filing for divorce. Spousal support is separate from child support payments. In some cases, you may be able to receive spousal support and child support. 

What Determines Spousal Support Payments? 

Your financial need, standard of living, marital assets, length of marriage, earning potential, and household contributions are all determining factors when deciding the amount of alimony you’re awarded and for how long. As part of the new spousal support laws that went into effect in 2023, courts may now consider the economic impact of adultery by either spouse on the marriage when determining the amount of alimony awarded.

Types of Spousal Support

There are several types of spousal support available in 2024: 

Temporary

Temporary spousal support provides financial assistance before the divorce is finalized, ensuring economic stability during divorce proceedings. 

Rehabilitative

Rehabilitative spousal support is granted to help a spouse gain the job skills and education required to seek full-time employment post-divorce. The requesting spouse must present the court with a detailed plan for self-support to qualify for this type of payment. Rehabilitative spousal support payments cannot exceed five years. 

Bridge the Gap

Bridge the gap alimony covers essential expenses in the first few months after the divorce is finalized, such as moving into a new home. This alimony can cover living expenses, furniture, and appliances for new living arrangements. This type of spousal support can also cover bills and monthly expenses when selling the family home. Bridge the gap payments cannot last longer than two years. 

Durational 

Durational spousal support is economic assistance for a specific length of time. A couple must be married for at least three years to be eligible for durational spousal support when getting divorced. The length of time durational alimony can be granted depends on the length of the marriage. For couples with short-term marriages (those between three and ten years), durational spousal support cannot exceed 50% of the marriage length. For moderate marriages (between 10 and 20 years), durational spousal support cannot surpass 60% of the marriage length. For long-term marriages (those lasting longer than 20 years), durational alimony can’t last longer than 75% of the marriage. In addition, the amount of durational spousal support cannot exceed 35% of the difference between you and your ex’s income. 

Can You Modify Spousal Support Payments? 

Rehabilitative and durational spousal support can be modified. To modify a spousal support payment, you or your ex must show that there have been significant changes to your income, relationship status, or health diagnosis to justify the change.

When Do Spousal Support Payments End? 

Spousal support payments end when the receiving spouse remarries or the payment time period expires. Spousal support can also be reduced or stopped if the person receiving the payments is in a stable, supporting relationship with another person, even if they don’t remarry.

Law Office of Alison M. Lopes: Navigating Spousal Support Payments in  Orlando

Alison M. Lopes is an experienced family law and criminal defense attorney serving families in Orlando and Central Florida. Our legal team can guide you through the entire divorce process, including requesting and negotiating spousal support. Contact our office at 407-442-2724 for a consultation.