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What is the Status of the Issue of Permanent Alimony in the State of Florida?
Last year, the Governor of the State of Florida vetoed a Bill which would have essentially abolished Permanent Alimony in the State of Florida. The bill was vetoed not because of the provisions on Alimony, but rather because it included provisions which would create a presumption of Equal Timesharing (50/50) in cases involving two parents with minor children. The Timesharing provision was combined in one bill and the Governor felt these two issues should be addressed separately. He vetoed the bill.
As of today, the Statute governing Alimony in Florida is Florida Statute 61.08. Florida Statute 61.08 has been changed in the past, but the present version of the Statute primarily focuses on certain factors in determining whether or not to award Alimony and for what duration. The Statute still requires parties seeking Alimony to establish that one of the parties has a need to receive Alimony and that the other party has the ability to pay Alimony. Typically, this involves a determination of the incomes of the parties and whether or not one of the parties' incomes is superior to the other.
As of today, the Alimony Statute in the State of Florida, Florida Statute 61.08, determines which types of Alimony and the duration of the payments based upon the length of the marriage. The length of the marriage commences with the date of the marriage and ends at the time of the filing of the Petition for Dissolution. Marriages are considered short-term if they are seven years of duration or less. In these types of marriages it is unlikely that Alimony would be awarded. It is possible that in a short-term marriage, that the Court could award Bridge-The-Gap Alimony which could last one to two years. No Permanent Alimony will be awarded in a short-term marriage. The Legislature in the State of Florida is considering the possibility of increasing the number of years for a short-term marriage to ten years.
At this time, a middle durational marriage is between seven and seventeen years. In these cases, the maximum Alimony is presumed to be the length of the actual marriage. Most Judges in Miami Florida, will award Alimony for a shorter length of time than the length of the marriage. Typically, a payment for two to three years is possible, The Florida Legislature is contemplating changing the length of the middle durational marriage from between seven and seventeen years to between ten and twenty years.
Finally, a long-term marriage at this time is any marriage in excess of seventeen years. These marriages have a presumption of Permanent Alimony if there is a need and an ability to pay. The Florida Legislature is seeking to change the long-term marriages to over twenty (20) years, but there would no longer be Permanent Alimony but rather 50% of the length of the marriage and a percentage of the party with superior Gross Income.
The issues are whether or not this new Statute will become law and whether or not the law will be applied retroactively to prior cases. It appears that new legislation is clearly going to be passed soon, but it is uncertain which impact will result from the legislature. It is likely however that less people will be entitled to Alimony in the future and the lengths of time for payments are likely to be reduced.
If you are in need of a Family Law Attorney in Miami or Broward County, Florida to assist you, please contact the Law Offices of Kenneth M. Kaplan, Esquire, at 305-666-9797 or 954-260-5479.