Although Florida State legislators allowed a recent alimony reform bill to expire this April, changes to the law may still be coming. The Florida Senate website shows that a sponsoring senator recently filed a new bill, Senate Bill 250, which aims to make many of the same reforms to alimony law as the previous bill
The new bill would largely try to correct many of the perceived issues affecting how alimony is calculated, the length of time it may last and in what circumstances it is able to be modified. Current laws, as listed in the 2015 Florida Statutes, give little to no guidance on how alimony is to be calculated. Instead, it lists factors that the court can consider when making its determination. This includes how long the parties were married, the financial resources of the parties and the standard of living that the couple established while they were married. Further recommended considerations include the contribution each party made during the marriage and income sources for the separating spouses.
The new law would make determining alimony amounts and duration a more objective process for the courts. The court would rely on the listed considerations to make a determination as to whether or not alimony is necessary and possible, and then apply a specific formula to determine the exact amount of alimony to be paid. The years the parties were married and the incomes of the parties are the two factors used in the formula. The judge would still retain some ability to use discretion to ensure that the process is fair and balanced. If the law passes, it would essentially end permanent alimony, which occurs when there is no end date to an order for support payments.
Other notable changes to the law, should the bill pass, include altering how and when an alimony order can be modified. In addition, it would set the maximum amount of combined alimony and child support payments at no more than 55 percent of the spouse’s income.