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New Alimony Law

At the time of this writing, there is a bill working its way through the legislature to overhaul alimony in the state of Florida. The bill has already passed the Senate and House and now awaits the governor’s signature. major overhaul to the alimony process. The governor has until April19th to decide whether to sign or veto the bill.

The primary concern within the bill, SB 668, is how it redefines spousal support payments, commonly known as alimony. Florida has several different kinds of alimony payments to meet certain circumstances. The bill seeks to allow judges to readjust payments to get rid of “forever alimony”, a form of payment where the payor has to continue to give payments for the remainder of their life, regardless of the payee’s future financial status.

For decades, this form of alimony has been contentious. In most cases, men are forced to pay women. The men say that forever alimony is unfair. The women say that their career prospects were damaged when they stayed home to raise children instead, and that it can be hard for them to gain entry-level jobs. Thus, they deserve lifetime compensation.

The law wouldn’t get rid of forever alimony outright, but it would allow the courts to modify alimony payments if there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” Possible circumstances could include receiving Social Security or disability benefits, or finding a job with adequate income. A similar bill in 2013 was vetoed because it tried to get rid of forever alimony retroactively. The governor thought that would cause too much chaos.

The law also adjusts many other court rules surrounding the awarding of alimony, such as the maximum and minimum amounts and duration of alimony, which forms of income can be considered to be part of alimony payments, when and under what circumstances can a payment get adjusted, how alimony payments are affected by child support and child rearing duties, among other matters.

In most cases, alimony payments would be calculated according to the following rules:

  • Low-end of payment: (0.015 x number of years married) x the difference in gross income between the parties.
  • High-end of payment: (0.020 x number of years married (maximum of 20 years)) x the difference in gross income between the parties.
  • Duration: Between 0.25 and 0.75 x the number of years married.

As an example, let’s say a marriage of 10 years ended in divorce. One party makes $75,000 a year, the other $30,000 a year. The low-end payment per year would be (0.015 X 10) X 45,000, which equals $6750. The high-end payment would be $9000. The payor would have to pay yearly alimony in that range for a duration between 2.5 and 7.5 years.

If this law passes and you are receiving or paying forever alimony, it is possible that a renegotiation could happen. If you think this can happen to you, you may want to seek legal assistance. Gustavo E. Frances is ready to help you get a fair result in your case. Call today for a free consultation.

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