What Are The Upcoming Changes To The Alimony Statute?

Last year there was a lot of publicity about the changes to the alimony statute moving through the Florida Legislature. These changes involved the complete elimination of permanent alimony and the use of a formula to impute income to a receiving spouse in an alimony calculation. That bill, although it passed the legislature, was vetoed by the Governor because it contained provisions making possible an adjustment to alimony awards already established by court order.

That veto did not end the potential changes to the alimony statute and there is presently a bill working its way through the Florida legislature that will most certainly affect how alimony is calculated and the duration of alimony. The following are some of the changes being proposed and REMEMBER, this is NOT the law yet:

1) Alimony will be calculated only after the assets and liabilities of the marriage are distributed.

2) Alimony will be calculated by taking 35% of the payor spouse's income less 20% of the receiving spouse's income, and the total amount of alimony awarded shall not be more than the lesser of a) 40% of the combined gross income of the two parties or b) the receiving spouse's needs and necessities as established during the marriage (the life style of the marriage).

3) The length of the alimony award will be a) 30% of the number of months for a marriage of less than 3 years; b) 50% of the number of months for marriages of 3 years or more but less than 10 years; c) 75% of the number of months for marriages of 10 years or more but less than 15 years; d) 100% of the number of months for marriages of 15 years or more but less than 20 years; e) 150% of the number of months for marriages of 20 years or more.

4) The length of the marriage is determined from the date of the marriage until the date of filing a petition for dissolution of marriage.

5) There are deviation factors the court will be able to consider such as if a parent has the care of a special needs minor or dependent adult child, whether there was an unequal distribution of the assets and liabilities, the tax consequences to both parties, the age, physical and emotional condition of the parties.

6) Reasonable retirement of a paying spouse will be if that spouse is receiving full social security benefits, has reached the customary age of retirement in that profession, or the paying spouse's age, health and type of work justify retirement.

7) Guidelines for imputing income to a receiving spouse include evaluating the employment potential and probable earnings level of the receiving spouse based on recent work history, occupational qualifications and prevailing earning level in the community, if that information is available.

This is not the law yet, but it is important to keep the upcoming changes in mind if you are in the process of a divorce or considering one. At Mercedes R. Wechsler, P.A. we stay on top of the changes in the law and can guide you in making smart decisions for your short and long-term future.