Understanding Florida’s new alimony law

A 77-year-old woman from South Florida recently felt anxious. She has been married for more than 30 years, and she was divorced in 2006, and she has been collecting alimony since then. It’s not enough to live on – just over $1,000 a month. But she has it, and she needs it.

“It was called permanent alimony,” she said. “It would be gone if I remarried, but I never remarried. Why would I want to remarry? I’m old!”

Now she worries that a new state law will deprive her of the monthly payment she has relied on for 17 years.

The law, which took effect on July 1, restricts the ability of women (and sometimes men) to collect alimony for the rest of their lives for marriages that ended after July 1. Whereas in the past payment agreements were the result of difficult negotiations between and with the rigor of lawyers, the new law places well-defined limits on how long a person can expect to pay or receive alimony payments after a marriage deteriorates.

Lawyers say they are inundated with questions from ex-wives and ex-husbands who worry (or hope) that the new law will affect the agreements they have reached. The answer, the lawyers said, is – probably not.

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