Big Changes Coming in Florida Alimony

The Florida legislature is considering monumental changes to the alimony laws. The bill deals with more than alimony, but drastically affects alimony so it is being referred to as the “alimony bill”. It has been passed by the Senate and, if the House passes it as expected, it will become law on July 1, 2013.

Here is a summary of the proposed new family law:

Permanent alimony is eliminated. All awards of alimony will be for a specific number of years, rather than being open ended (such as is done now in long-term marriages).

The standard of living during the marriage is no longer the basis for the need of the receiving spouse, but rather the needs of life after dissolution of marriage with the understanding that both parties will have a lower standard of living after the divorce.

A “short-term marriage” is now defined as less than or equal to eleven years, rather than the previous less than seven years and there is a presumption that a marriage of less than twelve years would result in no alimony at all. If alimony is awarded in a short-term marriage, it can be for not more than twenty five percent of the paying spouse’s gross income and for a period no longer than one-half of the length of the marriage (as opposed to the previous term allowed of up to the entire length of the marriage).

A “mid-term marriage” is now defined as being more than eleven years and less than twenty years, rather than more than seven years and less than seventeen years. There is no presumption one way or the other as to whether alimony should be awarded, but if it is, it can be for no more than one-half of the length of the marriage (as opposed to the previous term allowed of up to the entire length of the marriage). The amount of alimony cannot exceed thirty five percent of the paying spouse’s gross income.

A “long-term marriage is now defined as being twenty years or more, rather than the previous seventeen years or more. There is still a presumption in favor of alimony awards in long-term marriages. The alimony is not open-ended, but can only be for one-half of the length of the marriage and the amount cannot exceed thirty eight percent of the paying spouse’s gross income.

The combination of durational alimony and rehabilitative alimony cannot exceed forty percent of the paying spouse’s gross income.

In a sliding scale based upon how long it has been since employed, a spouse seeking alimony who is not working will be presumed to be able to earn a percentage of what that spouse previously earned. That scale goes from a ninety percent presumption if the spouse has been out of work for less than a year to a forty percent presumption if the spouse has been out of work for at least five years.

I will update you once we have the vote in the Florida House of Representatives.

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