Florida Alimony Changes Await Governor’s Signature

- Gary E. Williams

After a lengthy battle on both sides of the law, the revised Florida Alimony Bill has passed legislation and is awaiting the Governor’s signature – due to be signed or vetoed by March 24th. If signed, these changes will become permanent fixtures in divorce proceedings throughout the state, encompassing changes in how couples move forward with separation, alimony payments and even timesharing where the children are concerned.

 

What You Need to Know

At the Law Firm for Family Law, we have been following this piece of legislation closely from inception to passage, as the end result that awaits the Governor’s signature will change the way divorces and alimony determinations are handled through the state of Florida.

 

Alimony is that allowance paid by a spouse – or former spouse – to support the standard of living in which the recipient has become accustomed throughout the marriage. This amount is granted by the court during legal separation or divorce while further actions are pending. Simply put, this allows the receiving spouse to continue the financial lifestyle they were previously enjoying before the marriage dissolved. With final approval, the law will serve an end to permanent alimony.

What Has Changed?

There are a total of six types of alimony that exist in the state of Florida, including Permanent Alimony, Durational Alimony, Rehabilitation Alimony, Bridge the Gap Alimony, Lump Sum Alimony and Temporary Alimony. Each version was implemented to cover the specific needs of the recipient as their respective cases were reviewed by the courts.

 

With the latest legislative change, there will be one designated form of alimony in the state of Florida, which is determined by a mathematical formula calculating the amount – and the duration – of alimony payments going forward. The law is NOT retroactive, and has no bearing on cases that have already been presented to the court and are finalized before October 1, 2016.

 

How Will Alimony Be Calculated Going Forward?

The mathematical formula used to determine alimony payments will be considered based on the length of the marriage and the differing gross incomes of the couple seeking dissolution.

 

 

Formula for the Amount Paid

The formula for the amount paid in alimony will range from .015 to .020 times the number of years married – with a capped placed at 20 years –  multiplied by the difference in the divorcing couple’s gross income.

Formula for the Duration of Payment

The formula for the duration of payments – that is, how long spousal payments will be made – ranges from 0.25 times the number of years married to 0.75 times the number of years married.

 

If a couple has been married for more than 20 years, the cap will be instituted at the 20th year, with the balance of the nuptials being voided for calculation purposes.

 

Likewise, if a couple is married for two years or less, there is an automatic presumption that alimony shall not be awarded to either party, unless the court is capable of making convincing findings – in writing – otherwise.

 

Can the Judge Change the Formula?

Per the new law, should any Judge in the state of Florida deviate from the guidelines listed therein the revised signed law, his or her actions must be explained in writing.

 

What About the Children?

The latest bill also includes a segment involving the children of divorce, which mandates that a judge determine timesharing schedules that begin with the “premise” of children spending “approximately equal” time with each parent.

 

The governor has until March 24th to sign the revised bill or to veto it. With these resolutions passing legislation, it is important that couples who are considering divorce, or are currently separated, seek counsel right away to understand what the newest laws mean to their families.
The Law Firm for Family Law in Clearwater, Florida can help answer any questions you may have regarding separation, divorce and timesharing, and how this new law will affect your family, by making a simple phone call to 727.531.8737.