Florida Alimony Law

A discussion of alimony law in Florida

 If you or your spouse are seeking alimony, you must gather facts and build arguments based on the statutory factors. The Florida alimony statute requires a judge to consider certain factors, shown on our alimony puzzle. You must have provable facts supporting or denying each and every one of the factors. The most important factors are “the length of the marriage,” the need for money of one spouse, and the ability of the other spouse to pay that amount.

Alimony is unpredictable and you should never assume the judge will give alimony or refuse to give alimony. That is why you should do your best to look at the factors and gather supporting facts in your favor.


The main types of alimony are:

Permanent periodic alimony - the traditional type of alimony that continues until death or remarriage.

Rehabilitative Alimony - also called “bridge the gap” – payments for a definite amount and a defined period of time. The payments allow the spouse to return to school or make other life adjustments as necessary.

Lump Sum Alimony - not really a form of alimony but a way to distribute property. If the spouse that has property (such as a business) does not have a pool of cash, the court allows regular payments for a defined period of time. In rare situations, regular-support type alimony may be paid in one lump sum and referred to as lump-sum alimony in your final order.

Durational Alimony - A new type of temporary alimony.  Normally granted for a specific length of time – not to exceed the length of the marriage.

Bridge the Gap Alimony - a type of alimony designed to help someone transition from married life to a self-supporting life.  This type of alimony is normally very short term.



Length of your Marriage and Alimony

The most important factor for alimony is how long you were married. As the length of the marriage increases, alimony is more likely. But all of the other factors must also support an alimony judgment. The time is counted from your marriage date until the date of the divorce petition.

   The probability you will pay or receive alimony – by number of years married

4 years

7 years
10 years
12 years
17 years

not likely

slightly possible

very possible


almost definite


Alimony in Florida is one of the more unpredictable areas of family law. Unlike child support, there is not a guarantee of alimony, nor a set amount if alimony is granted by the court. You can have the same set of facts and get 10 different decisions in 10 different courts. Some states have alimony guidelines – but not Florida. Florida alimony statutes require the judge to consider a list of factors when deciding the issue of alimony. Each factor is shown above. Unlike other states, Florida does not embrace the concept of legal separation. That means alimony is rarely, if ever, granted unless a couple is going through the divorce process. 

Alimony Calculator

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 Common Florida Alimony questions and answers


Q: Does Florida have a standard for alimony calculation?

A: Florida alimony law does not set specific numbers and there is no standard for amounts. But we do have an online tool that uses a national model for alimony.


Q: I have been married for 3 years and my spouse threatened me with alimony.

A: Under Florida law, alimony is usually ordered for long term marriages – over 12-14 years long. For a short term marriage such as 3 years, alimony is rare, if not impossible.


Q: Can the amount of alimony payments be changed?

A: Yes. Alimony payments depend on the income of both spouses. If income significantly changes, you can seek an alimony modification. Depending on the exact type of alimony, it is normally always modifiable.


Q: Is Alimony tax deductible?

A: Normal alimony, referred to as permanent periodic alimony is usually taxable to the recipient and deductible to the payer. But if the two of you enter an agreement for alimony, you can designate the tax treatment and the IRS will respect that designation.


Q: I have been married for 4 years and my spouse has supported me the entire time. Can I get alimony?

A: Very unlikely.  In a 4 year marriage, Florida alimony law considers you an able-bodied adult, able to earn a living. Normally you need to be married at least 7 years for a decent alimony claim.


Q: We have been married for 5 years and separated for several years.  If I don’t get divorced for another 5 years, can I qualify for alimony?

A: Again, very unlikely.  Your financial existence was separate from your spouse when you began to live apart.  You cannot milk out the length of your marriage just to prove alimony is needed. Also, by living on your own for that many years – you have proven you can live without alimony.


Q: My married is 20 years long.  Does that mean I will definitely receive alimony?

A: You still need to prove your need for alimony, and your spouse’s ability to pay alimony. But based on the length of marriage, your alimony claim may be pretty strong.

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Cheri was referred to me by another local attorney who was not taking any more clients. I couldn’t be happier to have had her represent me during my case. She is very professional and kind. I had another attorney who was great but I dealt with his assistant most of the time. With Cheri I could always go to her directly if I needed to. She is busy too of course but always found time to answer questions for me and calm my nerves. She gave me all of my options from the least costly to other options that may cost more but are worth it. I am glad I took her advice. In the hearing with the judge she was very professional and had my whole case together. She handled herself very well and made the opposing counsel look like a college student. She knows her stuff! Very knowledgable, professional, caring and dependable. I’d highly recommend her!

Sheena - Avvo

florida alimony laws

Attorney Alberto Ayo

assessing an alimony case

  • keepingemsafe

    I have a friend who has been getting child support and a modest alimony for the past 10 years. Her children just turned 18 and child support has ended. She is disabled and can’t work so she needs her previously agreed to lifetime alimony to survive.

    She has a boyfriend that spends a lot of time at her house over the years but he does not live there as he has his own home, and has his bills and expenses. There is no comingling of funds and he contributes nothing to the home except for groceries (as he eats there) and he also takes her and her children out to dinner periodically as well as paying for trips that they take.

    Her ex husband is a physician who is being investigated by the Department of Health for improperly prescribing drugs. He just left Fl and is living in his wealthy parents 2nd home with his girlfriend and former boss (to set up shop where they now are) and also bought/leased an expensive new car.

    He filed a petition to temporarily or permanently cancel alimony because he is now unemployed (by his own doing) and because he says that she is in a relationship and her partner should pay for her expenses. He also wants her to pay for his legal and court fees.

    She has no funds to afford a lawyer and legal aid does not really help in this kind of situation. She has 10 days left before a default judge is entered. Needless to say she is beside herself and does not know where to turn for help.

    Are there attorneys or legal teams out there that are funded to help in situations such as this? Every one she spoke with say its an messy convoluted case and want high retainers which she cant afford.

    Her ex husband should not be allowed to take advantage of her because his parents have deep pockets.

    Contact names or numbers would be most appreciated!

    Thanks for any help

    • HowardIken

      Here is a directory of legal aid providers http://www.floridalegal.org/Directory/2013Directory.pdf If the case really is convoluted then she may have trouble getting a legal aid office involved. The problem is that cases such as this take a lot of financial resources to conduct. I would suggest “assisted self-help.” The cost would be much less and it is better than nothing. We do provide that type of assistance and the cost is reasonable. But the first step would be to apply to legal aid.

      • keepingemsafe

        Many thanks for your thoughtful input Howard!! As a first step, she will be re-contacting Legal aid on Tuesday (in her county this is the only day they take calls). One last question, if she does not respond to this petition, and a default judgement is entered, will she then be responsible for her ex husband’s legal fees (as requested in the petition)? How might this scenario play out? I am trying to understand her exposure/liability should she decide to go this route.

        • HowardIken

          No one should ever allow a default judgment. You never know what is going to happen. Attorney fees are never automatic but if she does not respond – that will be the equivalent of rolling the dice.

  • Amber

    I have been married 12 1/2 years, but separated at 11. My husband did not work 90% of the marriage. I went to college, while working full time during the marriage. He has had a few jobs for short periods of time and lost each of them due to calling in too much. He also went to college and quit during the first semester. He was denied a job opportunity after failing the drug test. We have several acres with a mobile home that he would like to keep. The property is paid for and we still owe on the home. He is asking for rehabilitative alimony to go to school. How likely is it that I will have to pay alimony?

    • HowardIken

      Not very likely if you have been separated a substantial amount of time. But there are other facts that go into the decision.

  • cs

    I have been married for 25 years. My wife has been having an affair for about 8 years. After I found out she has moved out of the home a year and half ago. She has been living with this person for the year and a half and is in a supportive relationship. Will I have to pay alimony?