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Gainesville Attorney – Alimony Changes in Florida

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The State of Florida has radically changed its laws relating to the types of alimony a party may receive in a divorce action.

The first change concerns a two-year time limitation for statutory bridge-the-gap alimony. The bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to provide for the transition of a spouse who has not supported themselves in the past to a position where they are able to support themselves and obtain employment.

The new rules also establish the marriage length that constitutes a short, moderate, or long-term marriage. The length of the marriage has a great bearing on the presumption as to which type of alimony is available to a dependent spouse. The new rules define a marriage of moderate length as being more than 7 years but less than 17 years. Any marriage, being over 17 years in length, is presumed to be a long-term marriage. In such cases, there is a rebuttable presumption that permanent alimony should be awarded.

Previously, the State of Florida only recognized temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and permanent alimony awards. The new Florida rules provide for a new type of alimony called “durational” alimony. Durational alimony may be awarded to a spouse where a permanent alimony award is not appropriate because the length of the marriage is not long enough, but where rehabilitative alimony is not appropriate either, due to no likelihood of a successful rehabilitation being possible.

Durational alimony is to be for a specific term only. It terminates automatically if ether party dies or the spouse receiving the alimony remarries. Durational alimony may last for no more than the same length of time as the marriage and can be modified only upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances.

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