Alimony Reform in Florida

The intent of the new alimony statute is to create guidance to Circuit Court Judges for consistent spousal support rulings. It abolishes all types of alimony but for temporary alimony and final alimony. There is no longer bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational or permanent periodic alimony. It does not address the availability of lump sum alimony.

The statute considers both ability to pay and need for alimony. It creates a low range for amount and duration and a high range for amount and duration, and it is presumed any Judgment within that range is proper. To decide where the Order should fall in that range, there are alimony factors for review (very similar to the existing alimony factors). To deviate outside of that range, the Judge must explain why the guidelines are "inappropriate or inequitable" and she must do so in writing. It is very important to note that this law applies to all matters pending as of October 1, 2016, and therefore, if you have a trial in August, 2016 but is not ruled upon until October 2, 2016, this new statute would apply.

My initial calculations conclude it will save the payor money for a lower end long-term marriage (17 years or less) with gross income differential between the payor and payee of $150,000.00 or less. On the other hand, it seems, but for the time duration, if the parties lived a semi-reasonable standard of living, the payor would pay more money in alimony (but not duration) for long term marriages of 25 years or longer, with gross income differential of $200, 000.00 or more. I suggest you perform your own calculations (per the below formula) and apply the results to your opinion of average Circuit Court rulings.

The formula to determine the low end of duration is multiplication of .25 x number of years of marriage and .75 x number of years of marriage for the high end. 

To determine the amount of alimony, the low end is determined by multiplying .015 times the number of years married (not to exceed the number of 20 years married, even if married longer than 20 years), multiplied by the difference in gross income of the divorcing couple (either per month or per year, and if per year, divide by 12). To determine the high end, the multiplier number rises to .020, again with the maximum number of years for the multiplier at 20, unless if the Court establishes duration of the alimony award at 50% or less than the length of marriage, then the Court shall use the actual number of years of marriage up to a maximum of 25 years to calculate the high end of the presumptive alimony amount range. Therefore, if the duration of the marriage is greater than 20 years, there is a possibility the "amount" multiplier for the high end range may increase to 25 years.

1. The Parties have been married for 18 years and have standard W-2 income. The wife makes $50,000.00 per year and the husband makes $150,000.00 per year.

Therefore the low end amount / duration is $2,250.00 / 4½ years and the high end amount / duration is $3,000.00 / 13½ years.

2. The Parties have been married six years, and the wife has small business income of $75,000.00 per year and the husband has W-2 income of $60,000.00 per year.

Therefore the low end amount / duration is $112.50/1½ years and the high end amount / duration is$150.00/4½ years.

It is important to compare this alimony statute with the child support statute, as the child support does have a mechanism for deviation, as does this statute. However, experience concludes that Judges rarely deviate and apply the mathematical formula (either out of convenience or the Attorneys do not present sufficient requests and facts to the Court for deviation). I would expect the same potential application of the alimony guidelines with a high end duration / amount based upon children and whether the payee is a stay-at-home parent/spouse, and toward the lower end if there are not children and both parties are actively employed. Therefore, a rule of thumb / mid-range computation would be 0.0175 x the number of years of marriage (not to exceed 20 years) x the difference in gross income of the Parties, and I would expect negotiation to proceed above and below this rule of thumb amount.

One final note. Although unrelated to alimony, it is important to note that the statute has also entered a presumption that the Court shall begin with a premise that a minor child should spend approximately equal amounts of time with each parent, and to use this premise as a starting point subject to the Parenting Plan Factors.

Two examples: Please note the definition section has been completely reworked for gross income, potential income, underemployed, and many other definitions. There is a presumption that if your marriage is two years or less, there shall be no Order of Final Alimony. Also, imputation of income has been redefined along with the ability to order nominal alimony. The taxability and deductibility of alimony has also been redefined, as has termination, modification and payment of the award.