Experienced South Florida


Florida 2023 family law reform bill: Nuts and bolts, odds and ends

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2023 | Alimony, Child Custody, Parenting Plans, Relocation, Visitation and Time-Sharing

On July 1, 2023, a major alimony reform bill became the law across the Sunshine State. While alimony is the topic most impacted, other areas of family law were also.

We have written in this space about the bill’s contents several times (please check out our July 2023 posts). Today, we touch on some other interesting changes.

Taxes and life insurance

Even before the new bill, the alimony statute required judges to consider each factor in a long list plus anything else relevant when deciding spousal support awards. One factor on that list was the tax consequences to both parties of an alimony order. The legislature removed this factor from the list.

In 2019, the federal tax treatment of alimony changed. Support payments are no longer deductible on payors’ tax returns and recipients no longer must include alimony in their taxable income. While judges are not required to consider tax consequences, they still may if relevant to the alimony question in particular marriages.

Previously, the judge could order an alimony obligor (payor) to buy life insurance or a bond to protect the recipient’s financial interests should the ordered support stop. Now, the payor is not automatically the party to pay for the insurance or bond because the judge has discretion to apportion the expense between the parties or order either of them to cover the related costs.

In addition, now the court must specifically find “special circumstances” requiring the insurance or bond as security for the alimony.

Custody matters

A party can ask the court to modify a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule if they can show a substantial and material change in circumstances and it would be in the child’s best interests. Before the new law, the material change in circumstances also had to have been unanticipated, but the 2023 law removed this requirement.

The law also added a specific factor that “may be considered a substantial and material change in circumstances for the purpose of a modification to the time-sharing schedule,” if it would be in the best interests of the child. The new materiality circumstance provides that if the current custody and visitation provisions were established when the ex-spouse parents lived more then 50 miles apart, if one of them relocates to within 50 miles of the other, it “may” be a substantial change in circumstance.

Make a record of it

Throughout the reform bill the legislature inserted several times a requirement that a judge make specific factual findings, usually in writing, concerning a particular conclusion relevant to the divorce or similar decree. This means that the written record of the trial court will likely be longer and more detailed, which makes a more substantial, robust record for an appeals court to review.

Requirements of written factual findings may also function as reminders or prompts to trial judges of matters they must specifically decide.

Any Floridian with questions about the new legislation should contact an experienced family lawyer.


The LAW OFFICES OF FORREST & Forrest, PLLC represents individuals in Fort Lauderdale in high-asset divorce matters. Daniel Forrest is board-certified family lawyer and mediator serving the South Florida area.

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