Possible Florida Alimony Changes – 2015
The House Civil Justice Subcommittee has approved the proposed alimony bill – unchanged at the moment. The companion bill is also moving through the Senate. This is the first step to the eventual presentation to the governor for signature. Be aware the exact text of the bill can change between now and a possible signature into law. Unlike 2013, this bill appears to have the backing of several influential factions in Florida, including the Florida Bar Family Law Section. That will increase the likelihood of the proposed bill becoming the law of Florida.
On February 24th, 2015 – House Bill 943 and Senate Bill 1248 were filed for the 2015 legislative session. Both bills are initially identical and drastically change alimony law in Florida. If successful, the new alimony law would be effective on October 1st, 2015. There are many twists and turns during adoption of new laws in Florida. We plan to update this page with each revision of the new 2015 alimony reform bill.
Comparing Old (Now/Current) Alimony Laws and New Alimony Laws
Definition of “Income” for calculation purposes
New: Extensive list of income definitions. Encourages court to determine income at least at minimum wage. Includes personal use of business expenditures, worker’s comp, and disability. Specifically excludes gains or income within retirement accounts if the money is not taken out (prior to retirement age)
For the first time “Income” may be defined as “Potential Income.” This would be the amount that could be earned with best efforts.
Now: Income has no exacting definition. The old statute refers to terms such as “earning capacity.”
Definition of “Underemployment”
New: “Underemployment” is a highly fought over term that indicates a person is purposely not earning their potential income. The new proposed statute defines underemployment as working part time, or taking an educational course that is not expected to increase income, or is not a reasonable fit with that person’s previous training and experience.
Now: No exact definition of “Underemployment” in the statutes. This issue is left completely up to the discretion of the judge.
All calculations that depend on income
New proposed alimony law is very specific that all calculations should take into account Potential Income of each party.
No mention of Potential Income in old statute.
Amount of Alimony
New: New proposed guidelines determine the upper and lower end for an alimony award.
The lower end is 0.0125 X the number of years of marriage X the difference between the monthly gross incomes of the parties
The upper end is 0.020 X the number of years of marriage X the difference between the monthly gross incomes of the parties.
The resulting amounts appear to be significantly lower than current, average alimony awards.
Now: No guidelines. The amount of alimony is almost completely up to the judge.
Right now you can conduct the same exact case in every county, and before every judge in the state of Florida, and come out with a hundred different outcomes. The entire country has been moving toward specific alimony calculations. This new law does not have a specific table of alimony – but comes closer to giving judges specific guidance. The new law calculates upper and lower figures for alimony.
How We Can Help
If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed family law attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to pursue your rights. Please learn about our firm at www.FerrisLawFirm.com.
Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.