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New Florida Alimony Bill Submitted to Legislature

Details of a bill seeking to revise Florida’s alimony laws finally became known last month when Rep. Colleen Burton (R)-Lakeland, submitted HB 943 to the House of Representatives. Among other changes, the bill, if passed as submitted, would alter the court’s determination of the amount and duration of an award of spousal support.

Florida Alimony Determination

The proposed law makes two major revisions to the method used by the court to make an award of alimony.

Under current Florida law, the court takes into consideration the length of the parties’ marriage when deciding whether to award alimony and the amount the recipient is entitled to receive. Marriages are separated into three different categories:

Short-term: marriages that lasted less than seven years

Moderate-term: marriages that lasted more than seven years, but less than 17

Long-term: marriages that lasted more than 17 years

But Rep. Burton’s bill eliminates the three-tiered classification system and instead categorizes marriages into short and long-term, with 20 years being the cut-off. The formula used to determine the amount and duration of any spousal support award depends on whether the marriage is considered short or long-term.

For short-term marriages, the court would be permitted to award an amount that falls within the following calculation:

Low-end: .0125 x Years of marriage x Difference between parties’ gross income

High-end: .020 x Years of marriage x Difference between parties’ gross income

For long-term marriages, the formulas are the same for determining the low and high-end of the presumptive alimony award, except that 20 is used for the “year of marriage” portion of the calculation, regardless of the marriage’s actual duration.

Once the range is established, the court must then determine the presumptive duration of the alimony award based on the following calculation, regardless of whether the marriage was short- or long-term:

Low-end: 0.25 x Years of marriage

High-end: 0.75 x Years of marriage

If passed, the changes provide a bit more certainty as to the amount of alimony that could be awarded. This could help a party decide if arguing for – or against – an award of alimony is worth the time and effort, because they would know prior to submitting a motion for alimony the rough amount that the court could award, based on the parties’ respective gross incomes, and the possible length of the award.

But the elimination of the law’s current three-tier classification system means that a person whose marriage lasted 19 years and 11 months could receive the same proportion of spousal support as a person whose marriage lasted only six years.

The bill has passed out of its first committee and is still winding its way through the legislative review process. If passed, it would take effect October 1 of this year.

Boca Raton Alimony Attorneys

The Boca Raton spousal support attorneys at Schwartz | White have more than 50 years’ combined experience helping spouses obtain an award of alimony as part of their divorce settlement. There are many factors that go into the court’s determination of whether to award alimony beside simply the length of marriage. Our attorneys can review your case to help win you the alimony amount you deserve. Call our office today at 561-391-9943, or complete our online contact form, to schedule your free initial consultation.

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