Florida Alimony Reform in 2015 – What’s the Latest News?

Recent news on Florida alimony reform could be summed up simply by stating “No new laws concerning spousal support have been enacted in Florida in over 5 years.”

But that would be a bit misleading. Lawmakers have been plenty busy behind the doors of both houses of the Florida legislature, working to renovate the way alimony is handled in Florida divorce cases.

Speak with an experienced alimony attorney at our firm today.
Call 855-Kramer-Now (855-572-6376)
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Recap of Florida Alimony Reform over the Past 10 Years

In 2005, the idea of lowering or eliminating alimony was introduced for cases where a spouse who is receiving alimony payments enters into another supportive relationship, including a non-marital relationship.

In 2011, various components of Florida alimony law underwent reform. These modifications served to

  • define different lengths of marriages
  • create “durational” alimony
  • Add specific factors for the court to consider in deciding whether to award alimony, the amount to award, and the type of alimony to award.

In 2012, the House of Representatives proposed a new bill, HB 549, which involved a vast overhaul of Florida’s alimony laws. This bill proposed more controlled, methodical standards and inflexible rules for alimony awards.

HB 549 died in Judiciary. Had it passed, it would have ended permanent alimony and set the alimony payment period at 1/2 of the years of marriage in some cases. If a judge desired to order an award of longer duration, they would be required to support their reason for doing so in writing. A judge would not have jurisdiction to reinstate alimony.

In 2013, alimony reform Bill 718 provided for another major overhaul of alimony. The bill passed both the House and Senate, then was vetoed in the spring by Governor Rick Scott. The veto was largely in response to a retroactive component in the Bill.

The retroactive components would have

  • ended permanent alimony,
  • provided that the court would presume no alimony for marriages up to 11 years, and
  • assigned either spouse the burden of proving whether alimony was needed in a marriage lasting between 11 and 20 years.

Gov. Scott’s stance what that, if enacted into law, these provisions would have unfair and unpredictable results to preceding divorce cases by reducing or likely eliminating existing alimony payments.

If it had passed, the 2013 Bill would also have, among other provisions,

  • abolished permanent alimony;
  • lengthened the duration of short term, medium term and long term marriages in general by 3 or 4 years;
  • capped alimony awards depending on a spouse’s income and the duration of the marriage;
  • simplified the process for reducing or altogether ending spousal support payments upon retirement;
  • “non-marital assets” that either spouse relied on while still married would be considered in the fair and impartial distribution of assets and debts.

Fast-forward to 2015

No legislative action took place in 2014. However, lawmakers and others had strived in the meantime to craft a new bill out of previous attempts.

In 2015, two similar versions of a proposed bill were being considered by both the House and Senate. The House proposal was HB 943 and the Senate proposed bill was SB 1248.

At issue and in question in the Senate’s version of the bill was a provision unassociated with alimony that would have set up a “50-50” presumption regarding child sharing between divorcing parents.

Both bills died on April 1, 2015 when the Senate refused to take up the House’s version of the bill.

The main issues in these bills included:

  • All alimony awards would have a specified end date. The other forms of alimony are referred to only as “alimony.” The proposed new law basically groups all forms into a variation of durational alimony — and no more permanent alimony.
  • A presumption favoring alimony for marriages longer than 2 years. Alimony payment amounts and duration of payments depend on formulas based on each party’s income and how long they were married.
  • Provisions for alimony modification upon a paying spouse’s retirement or if their circumstances change in other ways. The reformed statute recognizes that everyone has a right to retire.
  • The 2015 reformed bill sets two formulas for determining the lower and upper ranges of alimony payments and for the duration of alimony. This in fact abolishes classifications of short-term marriages (up to seven years), medium-term marriages (7 to 17 years) and long-term marriages (longer than 17 years).

New Florida Alimony Reform Bill 250 Set for 2016

According to the SaintPetersBlog, on September 10, 2015 Senator Tom Lee filed yet another new Senate Bill to spark a revived drive for Florida alimony reform.

Senator Tom Lee's Family Law Bill SB 250 is filed for the 2016 Legislative Session.

The main issues in this latest reform effort include:

  • a court will be required to consider certain factors and make written findings of fact regarding the relevant factors that justify an award of alimony;
  • a court will be required to make specified findings (i.e.: each spouse’s monthly gross income, years of marriage) before ruling on a request for alimony;
  • a presumption exists that approximately equal time-sharing by both parents is in the child’s best interest;
  • providing that a party may pursue an immediate modification of alimony in certain circumstances.

What Can You Expect in Your Alimony Situation?

The debate over Florida alimony reform is an emotional and controversial issue that will likely see further action in 2016 and 2017:

  • Permanent alimony may become a thing of the past;
  • Changes to the definitions of short term, medium term and long term marriage may occur;
  • Caps may be placed on alimony payments, and the court may follow complex calculations in determining awards.

If you are paying or receiving alimony, will things change for you? If you are contemplating divorce, should you take alimony actions now, or wait until 2016? Would you still be able to modify alimony? Should you retire sooner or later?

There may be cases in which alimony becomes a strategic decision. If you have any questions about alimony or divorce, contact our family law attorneys at Kramer Law today.

We Are Resolved to Bring You Peace of Mind

It has been said that marriage is about love, divorce is about money.

Divorce is also about the laws that regulate the dissolution of marriage. These laws, and the family law attorneys who apply them, serve to protect your rights in divorce and alimony.

At Kramer Law, our goal is to help you transition through a most difficult and life-changing event that will impact your financial, emotional and situational status.

We will sit down with you, hear your story, and advise you of your legal options and how we can help you now and into the future.

Speak with an experienced alimony attorney at our firm today.
Call 855-Kramer-Now (855-572-6376)
.

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