Join us for this podcast about possible changes in the Florida law surrounding alimony. In this session, host Leon Bloder speaks with attorneys Merideth Nagel and Stephanie Modica about what these changes could mean to the citizens of the great state of Florida.
Currently, the Court’s determination of an alimony award is factual and can vary widely from case-to-case. Generally speaking, an alimony award is based on need and ability to pay.
Florida Statutes Section 61.08 outlines the factors a court must consider in awarding alimony. Those factors are:
There are currently five types of alimony:
Generally, a change in circumstances is needed to modify a rehabilitative, durational and/or permanent alimony award. Alimony is also, generally, taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payor for tax purposes.
The alimony reform bill, which has currently passed both the House and Senate, makes considerable changes to how alimony is determined in Florida. Similar to how child support is calculated, the reform requires courts to use a formula to determine alimony awards. That formula is 0.015 times the number of years married, multiplied by the difference in gross income of the divorcing couple on the low end. On the high end, that multiplier number rises to 0.02. The range is designed to give judges some discretion. The duration of payments would be between 0.25 times the number of years married to 0.75 times the number of years married. It effectively abolishes permanent alimony.
For example, if one partner makes $100,000 a year and the other makes $10,000, and they were married for 10 years, the alimony payment would be between $13,500 and $18,000 a year. A judge can deviate from the formula, but must specifically delineate the reasons for doing so.
Additionally, the bill requires that time-sharing schedules start with a premise of an approximately equal amount of time with each parent. While the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar supports the alimony reform, they are not in favor of the time-sharing proposal.
The bill is set to apply only to divorces filed on or after October 1, 2016 and will not apply retroactively. However, it will apply retroactively to any modification sought.
Proponents of the bill argue that it will provide uniformity in alimony awards. Critics say that it disproportionately negatively affects women. The reform very clearly reduces judicial discretion. Governor Scott has yet to make a decision regarding the bill, though he vetoed a similar bill a few years ago.
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