Florida’s Proposed New Alimony Law

The New Year typically brings forth change; some of us set goals and resolutions for ourselves while others feel the stronger bite of the cold winter weather. However in Tallahassee, it’s the laws that are subject to change. Currently, several lawmakers are working on a new alimony law statutes that govern the state of Florida – and the Tallahassee family lawyers at Liebenhaut Law can tell you what you need to know about these proposed changes.

Simply put, alimony is payment made from one spouse to another during a period of time following a final divorce. Courts generally try to allocate alimony so that one spouse is not devastated by financial shock and can continue to live a similar pre-divorce lifestyle. In order to determine a fair alimony award (payment), judges consider several factors set forth by Florida statutes such as:

  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party
  • The financial assets, income and other resources of each party
  • Employability, earning capacities, educational levels and the time necessary to receive employment
  • Future responsibilities of each spouse, especially regarding children
  • Marital contributions (homemaking, childcare, education and career building of the other party)
  • The tax treatment of an alimony award

Each Judge throughout the state has discretion as to how to handle matters of alimony.  It is important to select a Tallahassee divorce lawyer who can advise you on the trends of local judges with regard to alimony.  With the proposed legislation, officially referred to as HB455, these guidelines for establishing the alimony award will still remain. In fact, the primary focus lies in the duration of alimony payments. Currently, courts use their judgement to assign certain lengths of alimony that fall under the following categories:

Rehabilitative alimony

Alimony awarded for a period of time which would allow a spouse to redevelop previous skills or credentials.

Bridge-the-gap alimony

Alimony designed to ease the transition from married to single. This alimony may not exceed 2 years.

Durational alimony

Alimony awarded for a set period of time or until it is determined that there is no longer a need for financial dependence on the paying spouse.

Permanent alimony

Alimony awarded when courts conclude that no other form of alimony is fair and reasonable given the circumstances. Permanent alimony will terminate at the death of the spouse or re-marriage.

HB455 proposes to change these alimony award durations by providing a formula for courts to use. There are two formulas, one for less than 20 years of marriage and one for marriages greater than 20 years.  These formulas would apply throughout the state so all Tallahassee family lawyers should familiarize themselves with the formulas.  Below are the proposed formulas:

Alimony length for marriages less than 20 years: 0.25 X the years of marriage

Alimony length for marriages of 20 years or more: .75 X the years of marriage

Essentially, if the legislation is passed, the length of alimony payment will be dependent on fixed values rather than the judgement of the court and permanent alimony will no longer exist. HB455 is set to be effective on October 1, 2015 but it can fail at any point as it progresses through Florida legislature.

Regardless, the Tallahassee family and divorce lawyers at Liebenhaut Law will be prepared to handle any changes that may occur. A changing legal landscape is tough to navigate, but we’ll help you every step of the way. Be sure to keep up with our blog for more information about the ins-and-outs of family law.