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Alimony Reform Bills Coming to Florida Legislature

Bills that seek to change Florida’s alimony laws are coming to the Florida House (HB 231) and Senate (SB 718).  The bills, supported by Florida Alimony Reform, seek to do the following (according to the Florida Bar News):

HB 231 would do away with permanent alimony in almost all cases and make other changes.  It would create the presumption of no alimony in “short-term” marriages up to 10 years, and there would be no presumption in favor of either party for alimony in “mid-term” marriages of 10 to 20 years.  In the latter cases, the party seeking alimony would have to prove the need for alimony by a preponderance of the evidence, and payments would be limited to the lesser of 50 percent of the differences in the spouse’s income or 20 to 30 percent of the paying spouse’s net income, based on the length of the marriage.

Alimony would be presumed as needed on “long-term” marriages of over 20 years, but would be limited to the lesser of 50 percent of the income difference or 33 percent of the paying spouse’s net income.  An extra 10 percent could be awarded if the receiving spouse is determined to be disabled under Social Security standards.

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In Florida, Can A Husband Be Awarded Alimony?

When you think of Florida alimony, you might only consider those times when a husband is ordered (or agrees) to make spousal support payments to a wife.  But we no longer live in the 1950’s.  I am running into more divorce situations where the wife earns significantly more than the husband, and the wife is ordered (or agrees) to pay alimony to the husband.

An award of alimony to a husband is made based on the same exact factors that an award of alimony to a wife is made.  The primary consideration is the husband’s need for spousal support, and the wife’s ability to pay.  Once a court has determined that there is a need and ability to pay, the court will determine the length and extent of the alimony award after considering the following factors:

(a) The standard of living established during the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage.
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.

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Income Withholding Order

For quite some time, Florida has permitted child support and alimony payments to be deducted directly from a person’s paycheck.  This had been done through an income deduction order authorized by section 61.1301 of the Florida Statutes.

Recently, the federal government mandated that OMB Form 0970-0154 (Income Withholding for Support Order) be used in place of state income deduction forms.  Accordingly, Hillsborough County’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit has published a packet which includes the federal Income Withholding Order along with the Florida Addendum to the federal order and a Payment Information Sheet.

If you have a matter involving Florida alimony or child support and you are looking to schedule a consultation with a Tampa Bay family law attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or by filling out our online form.

Does Florida Have Alimony Guidelines?

When judges and child support hearing officers determine what amount of child support a parent should pay, they have a formula to help guide them to a proper child support amount. These guidelines take into account each party’s income, the amount of time a child spends with each party, and the amount of money each party spends on healthcare and daycare for the child.

So does Florida have any similar guidelines to help a judge determine a proper amount of alimony?

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Opposing Sides Brace for 2013 Florida Alimony Reform Legislative Battle

As I recently relayed, the end of the 2012 Florida Legislative Session marked the death of alimony reform for the year.  That is not to say that Florida alimony reform is dead forever.

The Florida Bar News is reporting that Alan Frischer, head of the the Florida Alimony Reform Group, is preparing once again to lobby for elimination of the concept of permanent alimony, among other things, in the 2013 legislative session.  Florida Alimony Reform says that it simply wants parties to be able to move on with their lives following a divorce without the cord of permanent alimony tieing them together.

But Frischer is facing stiff resistance from the Florida Bar’s Family Law Section (full disclosure:  I am a member of the Florida’ Bar’s Family Law Section).  From the Florida Bar News:

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No Changes to Florida Alimony Laws

In previous posts, I had written about proposed changes to the Florida Alimony Statute (section 61.08, Florida Statutes) that were under consideration in Florida Senate Bill 748 and Florida House Bill 549.

Well, as it turns out, neither of these bills passed in the Florida Legislature’s 2012 session. On March 9, the Senate Bill died in Rules, while the House Bill died in Judiciary.

If you have questions concerning your Florida alimony case and you are looking to retain a Tampa Bay alimony attorney, contact The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at 813-443-0615 or by filling out our online form.

Text of Florida Senate Bill 748 – Proposed Changes to Alimony Laws in Florida

Yesterday I wrote an update on changes that the Florida Senate is proposing to make to current alimony laws.  Below is the text of the current version of Senate Bill 748 (added text is underlined, while deleted text is stricken):

An act relating to dissolution of marriage; amending s. 61.08, F.S.; revising the factors to be considered for alimony awards, including adultery; requiring a court to make certain written findings concerning alimony; providing that if the court orders a party to provide security to protect an award of alimony, the court may so order only upon a showing of special circumstances; requiring that the court make specific evidentiary findings regarding the availability, cost, and financial impact on the obligated party to support the award of security; revising provisions for an award of durational alimony; redesignating permanent alimony as long-term alimony and revising provisions relating to its award; amending s. 61.14, F.S.; prohibiting a court from reserving jurisdiction to reinstate an alimony award if a supportive relationship ends; providing that a modification or termination of an alimony award is retroactive to the date of filing; requiring the court to consider certain specified factors in determining if the obligor’s retirement is reasonable; amending s. 61.19, F.S.; prohibiting the court from granting a final dissolution of marriage with a reservation of jurisdiction during the first 180 days after the date of service of the original petition for dissolution of marriage to subsequently determine all other substantive issues except in exceptional circumstances; authorizing the court to grant a final dissolution of marriage with a reservation of jurisdiction to subsequently determine all other substantive issues only if the court enters such other temporary orders as are necessary to protect the interests of the parties and their children; providing circumstances in which the court is not required to enter a temporary order; providing an effective date.

Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

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Termination of Alimony: Proposed Changes to “Supportive Relationship” Standard

According to current state law, a Florida family law judge has the option to reduce or terminate an alimony award if he or she finds that the ex-spouse receiving payment (the “obligee”) is in a supportive relationship.  The term “supportive relationship” currently has somewhat of a tough standard to overcome.  For example, one factor in determining whether a supportive relationship exists is whether the obligee and his or her current boyfriend or girlfriend call each other “my husband” or “my wife” in public.

In a bid to curtail permanent periodic alimony and ease the ability for a paying spouse (the “obligor”) to modify or reduce his or her alimony obligation, Florida HB 549 proposes many changes to the “Supportive Relationship” standard.  This bill will change current section 61.14(1)(b) of the Florida Statutes as follows (new language is underlined, while deleted language is stricken):

61.14 Enforcement and modification of support, maintenance, or alimony agreements or orders.—
(1)
(b)1. The court must may reduce or terminate an award of alimony if it determines upon specific written findings by the court that since the granting of a divorce and the award of alimony a supportive relationship has existed between the obligee and a person with whom the obligee resides. The court shall make specific written findings that support such a determination. On the issue of whether alimony should be reduced or terminated under this paragraph, the burden is on the obligor to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a supportive relationship exists.

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