Florida Lawmakers Propose New Alimony Law
Last month, members of the House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved a bill that, if passed, would place caps on how long a spouse can be required to pay alimony and eliminate lifetime alimony in Florida. To learn more about current alimony laws and how they could affect your own divorce negotiations, please contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney who can advise you.
Eliminating Alimony Categories
Under current state law, there are four types of alimony that are available to divorced couples, including:
- Bridge-the-gap alimony, which provides financial assistance to a former spouse for up to two years to help one spouse transition to post-divorce life;
- Rehabilitative alimony, which allows a former spouse to receive temporary support while receiving schooling or training;
- Durational alimony, which allows former spouses to receive financial assistance for a specific period of time; and
- Permanent alimony, which is only awarded when one spouse passes away or when the receiving spouse remarries.
If passed, House Bill 455 would eliminate the different forms of alimony, including permanent alimony and create one form of post-dissolution spousal maintenance. The new system would also require the use of a calculation based on a combination of the discrepancy between the parties’ incomes and the length of the marriage.
Establishing Alimony Caps
Under the terms of the new bill, the duration of alimony awards, although still linked to the length of the marriage, would also be capped. Judicial discretion would also be limited, as courts would be required to use a formula to determine a presumptive range for both the duration and the amount of the award. Judges would, however, be allowed to deviate from this standard range if the award would otherwise be inequitable. The law would also require the redefining of what qualifies as short-term, mid-term, and long-term marriages when it comes to calculating alimony amounts.
Modifying Alimony Awards
When it comes to modifying alimony awards, petitioners are usually required to provide proof of a substantial change in circumstances to justify the amendment. If enacted, the proposed alimony bill would provide that certain changes in a person’s income or the payor’s retirement will automatically constitute a substantial change in circumstances when a party is attempting to modify or terminate an alimony award. Similarly, the criteria used to determine the existence of a supportive relationship for the purposes of modifying an alimony award would be altered. Finally, a person who is found to be unreasonably pursuing or defending a modification would not only be barred from recovering attorney’s fees and costs, but would also have to pay the expenses of the prevailing party.
Call Our Fort Lauderdale Legal Team Today
To speak with experienced alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. about whether alimony could be appropriate after your own divorce, please call us today at 954-945-7591. You can also schedule a free case review with a member of our legal team by completing one of our brief online contact forms.