Florida Alimony Reform 2015 – Florida Alimony Guidelines
Many people are surprised to learn that, currently, Florida has no alimony guidelines. Rather, it has a bunch of factors that a judge considers, such as lifestyle of the parties, each spouses’ contribution to the marriage, and the age and physical condition of each. This has left many clients frustrated when they ask their attorneys how much alimony they should expect to pay or receive.
House Bill 943 looks to change this.
The Bill, currently being considered by the Florida House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, would create a presumptive range for both the amount and duration of alimony.
Presumptive Amount of Florida Alimony
To determine the low end of the range for the amount of alimony, multiply the years of marriage (calculated from the date of marriage to the date a petition for divorce is filed) by 1.25%. Then multiply this amount by the difference in gross monthly income between the potential payor and the potential payee. If a party is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the potential income that the party should be making considering his/her education and training will be attributed to that party, unless he or she is in school.
So let’s consider a scenario where there is a 7 year marriage, the Husband has a gross monthly income of $10,000, and the wife has a gross monthly income of $6,000. To get the minumum amount on the alimony range, multiply 7 (the number of years) times 1.25%, which equals 0.0875. Multiply that amount by $4,000 (Husband’s monthly income of $10K minus Wife’s monthly income of $6K), which equals $350. In this scenario, the court would presume that the Husband would pay to the Wife, at a minimum, $350 per month.
To find the presumptive maximum amount of alimony, you multiply the years of marriage (calculated from the date of marriage to the date a petition for divorce is filed) by 2%. Then multiply this amount by the difference in gross monthly income between the potential payor and the potential payee.
So, in the scenario discussed above, to get the presumptive maximum amount of alimony, multiply 7 (the number of years) times 2%, which equals 0.14. Multiply that amount by $4,000 (Husband’s monthly income of $10K minus Wife’s monthly income of $6K), which equals $560. In this scenario, the court would presume that the Husband would pay to the Wife, at a maximum, $560 per month.
Presumptive Duration of Florida Alimony
The House Bill also has a formula for determining the presumptive duration of Florida alimony. Alimony will be expected to last between 25% and 75% of the length of the marriage, measured from the date of marriage to the date a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed. So, in the seven year marriage discussed above, it would be expected that alimony would last between 1 year 9 months (7 years x 25%) and 5 years 3 months (7 years x 75%).
To determine where in that range of amount and duration a person will end up paying, you would look to a range of factors set out in the bill, which will be the subject of another blog post. You should also keep in mind that there are some exceptions to the above calculations, which are beyond the scope of this blog post. Further, as this is still a bill, the formula may yet change.
So, even though the proposed guidelines go a long way in taking the guessing game out of how much alimony a judge would order, there will still be a lot of uncertainty as, unlike child support guidelines that calculate an exact amount, the alimony guidelines will not provide an exact number, but only a range.
Rather than spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing for a trial, putting both spouses on the stand, and having each spouse’s private life be picked apart in the public courthouse, all parties should consider whether the collaborative process, a private form of dispute resolution, is right for them. This takes the ultimate decision of how much alimony is paid out of the hands of a judge and into the hands of the parties.
If you have questions regarding alimony or the collaborative process, contact Family Diplomacy at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.
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