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Currently, under Florida Statutes, there are several types of alimony, including permanent alimony which only terminates upon the remarriage of the recipient, death of either party, or cohabitation of the recipient in a supportive relationship. In order to qualify for permanent alimony currently, there must be a long term marriage, over 17 years or more, along with several other factors.
In late 2011, a bill was introduced which if passed will drastically change alimony in Florida. One of the first and most significant changes is that it eliminates permanent alimony and instead defines long term alimony as anything 20 years or longer. Durational alimony is limited to 50% or less of the length of the marriage and long term alimony is limited to only 60% of the length of the marriage. The only way to extend alimony beyond this time frame is if the recipient is certified as disabled and there are specific procedures for this to occur.
Several factors currently considering when determining alimony would be eliminated under this proposed bill. The first factor would be alimony. Currently, a Court may consider extramarital affairs of either party when determining both whether to award alimony and the amount of alimony if awarded. The Court can also consider the standard of living during the marriage when determining the award of alimony but under this proposed bill, that factor would also be eliminated. One of the most significant factors which would no longer be considered by the Courts are non-marital assets when determining alimony. Currently, a Court may consider non-marital assets and/or income from assets when determining a party's need or ability to pay alimony. For example, an inheritance, while non-marital, may be considering when determining if the party receiving said inheritance has a need for alimony or in determining if that party has the ability to pay alimony. Under the proposed bill, the Court may only consider actual income and marital assets, not non-marital assets or income from non-marital assets.
Another significant change is that all forms of alimony; bridge-the-gap for the transition from married to single life; durational to allow a party time to get on his or her own feet; rehabilitative to allow a party to obtain new skills or education; or long term alimony are all modifiable. Currently, bridge the gap, durational, or rehabilitative alimony may be non-modifiable, but that will change if this proposed bill is passed.
Regarding the termination of alimony, currently alimony terminates on a specified date if durational, bridge-the-gap, or rehabilitative; or upon the remarriage of the recipient, cohabitation in a supportive relationship of the recipient, or upon the death of either party. If one party retires, currently, then he or she must file to modify the alimony based on the retirement. Under the proposed bill, however, alimony will terminate upon retirement of the payor, death of either party, a specific date, or upon the cohabitation in a supportive relationship of the recipient. In fact, the Court must terminate the alimony upon a finding that the recipient is co-habitating in a supportive relationship and the proposed bill provides for specific factors for the Court to consider when making this determination.
Overall, the proposed bill will drastically change and limit alimony in the State of Florida. This bill has not been in acted yet, however, we will have to watch closely to see if the bill is passed or if any changes are made before it is passed.