Bills have been filed in both the Florida House and Senate to again attempt to “reform” Florida’s alimony laws. Florida lawmakers twice sent reform legislation to Governor Rick Scott who vetoed both efforts in 2014 and 2016. The 2014 veto was due to a retroactive provision which the Governor and others felt would have harsh consequences for needy alimony recipients. A 50/50 custody provision was attached to the 2016 bill, leading to its demise. The last day of the spring legislative session is May 5, 2017 so we should know something by then. If the law is passed, it would apply to all initial determinations and modifications filed on or after October 1, 2017
The crux of the reform legislation is to create a formula to determine the amount and length of alimony. Permanent alimony as well as the other statutory forms of alimony would be been eliminated and replaced by presumptive ranges. Alimony payments would last for a minimum of 25% up to the maximum of 75% of the length of the marriage. By example, a court could order a spouse to pay alimony for between 2.5 and 7.5 years as result of a 10 year marriage. A presumptive alimony amount range is also established. The low end of the range is defined as 0.015 times the years of marriage times the difference between the gross monthly incomes of the parties. The high end is calculated using 0.020 as the multiplier. As with most laws, the above rules do have exceptions. A court may establish an award of alimony that is outside of the presumptive alimony amount or alimony duration ranges if application of such is “inappropriate or inequitable.”
The alimony reform bill also eliminates alimony in short term marriages of less than two years except in certain situations. The new law addresses retirement and would allow the paying spouse to seek a reduction in alimony when he or she has reached the age of eligibility to receive full social security benefits or has the reached the customary retirement age for his or her occupation and has retired from that occupation. Also of interest in the new legislation is that the receiving spouse may not apply for an increase in alimony if the paying spouse receives an increase in income, unless it was determined at the time of the initial award that the paying spouse was underemployed or unemployed.
There are many more interesting provisions in the alimony reform bill but let’s not worry about them until they actually become law.