Alimony can often be one of the most contentious issues during any family law matter. In the State of Florida, there is no set formula for alimony and judges have wide discretion in determining the amount and term of alimony. Although the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has provided a formula for alimony, this formula is merely a guideline and is not followed by most judges. When presenting or defending an alimony claim, it is imperative to know the proper standard and considerations to present to the trial court.
The Alimony Reform Bill of 2023 introduces substantial changes to alimony laws in the state of Florida. The bill directly impacts any divorce case where alimony is a consideration. This includes both new cases and existing cases where modifications to alimony are sought. The changes in the law will affect how alimony is calculated and awarded. If you are going through a divorce or contemplating a divorce, it’s crucial to understand these changes to understand how they may impact you and any potential alimony award.
The Alimony Reform Bill, also known as Senate Bill 1416, was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on July 1, 2023. The bill introduces several key changes to the existing alimony laws in Florida:
Effective January 1, 2019, alimony will no longer be tax deductible to the person paying the alimony and taxable as income to the recipient. This means that the individual paying the alimony will no longer receive an off the top deduction. In other words, alimony will be much more expensive for the individual that is required to pay the alimony. However, alimony will no longer be counted as income to the spouse that is receiving the alimony. The new alimony tax laws only apply to divorce finalized after January 1, 2019. The bill is not retroactive and will not impact current alimony agreements. Read more about the tax bill eliminating the alimony deduction.
The Courts must consider several statutory factors when determining if alimony is appropriate. These factors are designed to consider the specific circumstances of both parties involved when entering an alimony award. In making an alimony determination, the court will consider the following factors:
While parties may reach an agreement to have non-modifiable alimony, there is no provision in the law to allow a court to award non-modifiable alimony. Smith v. Smith, 689 So. 2d 1312 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997). The Fourth District Court of Appeal expanded upon the prohibition against non-modifiable alimony in the case of Nethery v. Nethery, 951 So. 2d 976 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007). The court in Nethery opined that “the trial court has broad discretionary authority to do equity between the parties. Rosario v. Rosario, 945 So. 2d 629, 631 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006). However, in Smith v. Smith, 689 So. 2d 1312, 1312 (Fla. 5th DCA 1997), the court noted that “there is no provision in the law for non-modifiable permanent alimony'” and ordered the provision stricken upon remand. While it is true that under special circumstances lump sum alimony as support can be awarded, there is no corresponding provision in the law for an award of non-modifiable alimony. See Nethery v. Nethery, 951 So. 2d 976 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).
Section 61.08 restricts the judicial powers of the court when awarding alimony. While the court may find that durational alimony is non-modifiable as to length, it may not restrict the ability for a payor to modify or terminate his or her alimony obligation upon a substantial change in circumstances in accordance with 61.14, Florida Statutes.
The length of the marriage is an important factor when making any alimony determination. The court will look at the length of the marriage to determine what type of alimony is appropriate. When calculating the length of the marriage, the Court will calculate the time elapsed between the date of the marriage and the date of filing for divorce.
The 2023 Florida Alimony Reform Bill introduces substantial changes to the way is modified in Florida. The bill provides better guidelines for when a modification of alimony can be requested, which includes a significant change in the financial circumstances of either party, or the recipient cohabitating with a new partner. It also introduces a presumption that alimony will terminate upon the payer reaching the federal retirement age.
What is the Alimony Reform Bill of 2023 in Florida?
The Alimony Reform Bill, also known as Senate Bill 1416, is a new law passed in Florida that introduces significant changes to the state’s alimony laws. It was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on July 1, 2023.
How does the Alimony Reform Bill change the current alimony laws in Florida?
The Alimony Reform Bill introduces several key changes, including the elimination of permanent alimony, the requirement for courts to consider both parties’ gross incomes when determining alimony, and the provision for modification or termination of alimony upon the payer reaching the federal retirement age.
Does the Alimony Reform Bill eliminate permanent alimony in Florida?
Yes, one of the most significant changes brought about by the Alimony Reform Bill is the elimination of permanent alimony. Under the new law, alimony will be awarded for a specific duration. A short-term marriage (less than 10 years) may receive alimony for up to half the length of the marriage, moderate-term marriage (10-20 years) may receive alimony for up to 60% of the length of the marriage, or long-term marriage (20+ years) may receive alimony for up to 75% of the length of the marriage.
Can alimony be modified or terminated when the payer reaches the federal retirement age under the new law?
Yes, the Alimony Reform Bill allows for modification or termination of alimony upon the payer reaching the federal retirement age or the customary retirement age for his or her profession.
What constitutes a “substantial change in circumstances” for alimony modification under the new Florida Alimony Reform Bill 2023?
A “substantial change in circumstances” refers to a significant change that was not expected when the final alimony decision was made. This change must be big enough to affect the alimony, not voluntary (meaning it wasn’t done on purpose to change the alimony), and it must be a permanent change.
How does reaching full retirement age affect alimony payments according to the new Florida Alimony Reform Bill 2023?
When the person paying alimony reaches full retirement age, as defined by the Social Security Administration, they can ask the court to reduce or stop the alimony payments. However, the court will also consider if the person can continue to pay alimony after reaching retirement age.
What happens to alimony if the recipient remarries or starts living with a partner?
If the person receiving alimony gets married again or starts living with a partner in a supportive relationship, the person paying alimony can ask the court to reduce or stop the alimony payments. The court will look at factors like the nature of the relationship, any financial support provided in the relationship, and how long the relationship has lasted.
Can changes in income lead to alimony modification under the new Florida Alimony Reform Bill 2023?
Yes, significant changes in the income of either the person paying or receiving alimony can be grounds for modifying the alimony. This includes both increases and decreases in income.