Alimony Reform Enacted In Florida
In June, Florida’s governor officially signed a new alimony reform measure into law. The aim of the law is to provide divorcing couples with more consistency and predictability in alimony matters by requiring courts to abide by clearer, more definitive parameters when determining the amount and duration of alimony. The alimony reform bill went into effect on July 1st.
Eliminating Permanent Alimony
As a result of the passage of the new alimony reform measure, permanent alimony, which in prior decades was awarded in cases of marriages lasting 17 or more years, has officially been abolished. Instead, permanent alimony has been replaced with the already existing durational alimony, the amount of which (in a particular case) will depend on a variety of predetermined factors. These awards will also be limited in length based on the duration of the marriage and cannot:
- Exceed 50 percent of the length of a marriage lasting less than ten years (short-term);
- Exceed 60 percent of the length of a marriage lasting between ten and 20 years (moderate-term); or
- Exceed 75 percent of the length of marriage lasting more than 20 years (long-term).
Finally, durational alimony can never be awarded following the end of marriage that lasted less than three years. It is hoped that by only issuing awards for a set period, rather than an indefinite amount of time, divorcing parties will be given the ability to plan for their financial futures, while also providing finality to the process.
Limits on Other Alimony Awards
In addition to placing limits on the duration and amount of durational alimony, the new alimony reform measure also included restrictions for rehabilitative and bridge-the-gap alimony. For instance, rehabilitative alimony, which aims to help recipients pay for training and education to gain better employment, cannot be awarded for longer than five years. Bridge-the-gap alimony, on the other hand, which is awarded to assist recipients in paying for short-term expenses, cannot exceed two years.
New Guidelines for Reducing Alimony Based on Retirement
The new law also provides guidelines that courts must use when determining whether to lower or terminate an alimony award based on a payor’s retirement. Before the passage of the new law, courts were allowed to change or terminate alimony upon a payor’s “reasonable retirement”. What constituted a reasonable retirement, however, was often difficult to determine. To help resolve this confusion, lawmakers codified official standards and procedures for modifying an award due to retirement. As a result, courts can now change alimony upon the payor’s retirement when that person reaches the normal retirement age, which is:
- 62 years old, as specified by the Social Security Administration; or
- The usual retirement age for the payor’s specific profession.
Finally, the payor will need to either actually retire or begin making demonstrable efforts to do so in order to terminate or reduce an alimony award because of retirement.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
To learn more about how the new alimony reform law could affect your own award, please call experienced Florida alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today.