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Florida's 2016 Alimony Reform

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House Bill 455 seeks to overhaul and streamline Florida’s alimony rules. It is the Legislator's third attempt in recent years to revamp Florida’s alimony law. The new law seeks to end permanent alimony by limiting judges’ decision-making power in awarding spousal support by providing a predetermined formula for the amount of alimony a spouse can receive and for what duration. It will also allow for alimony to be retroactively modified or terminated.

A companion bill, CS/CS/SB 668 is now before the Florida senate that seeks to amend the way alimony is determined in Florida, including the amount and duration of alimony awards, the grounds for alimony, and the bases for modifying alimony due to a substantial change in circumstances. The bill also seeks to revise the laws governing the establishment of parenting plans and time-sharing schedules.

Here’s what the bill proposes regarding alimony:

  • The establishment of presumptive alimony ranges based on formulas incorporating the difference between each party’s gross incomes and the length of their marriage.
  • The limitation of the duration of an alimony award to 25 to 75 percent of the length of the marriage.
  • Placing a cap on the combination of alimony and child support at 55 percent of the paying party’s income.
  • Providing an exception to alimony guidelines so that the court can consider a homemaker’s long-term contributions to a marriage.
  • Allowing the paying party to pursue an immediate modification of alimony if the recipient’s income increases by at least 10 percent
  • Allowing a modification or termination of alimony if the paying party is involuntarily underemployed or unemployed.
  • Allowing a modification or termination when the paying party reaches retirement age.

Furthermore, the bill makes it clear that in instances in which the payer of alimony alleges a supportive relationship between the recipient and another person, the burden of proving the cohabitation does not rest with the obligor.

Under Florida’s current law, the policy is for each minor to have continuing, frequent contact with both of their parents after the parents' divorce. The new bill instead provides that the court must begin with the premise that a minor child should spend approximately equal amounts of time with each parent. The bill directs courts to consider existing statutory factors, which have been slightly revised, in formulating a specific parenting plan or time-sharing schedule. Courts will be required to make detailed written findings of fact when creating a plan or schedule.

If the bill receives the Governor’s approval, these provisions will take effect on October 1, 2016.

If you have questions or need assistance with an alimony matter, please contact Owenby Law, P.A..