There have been recent changes to Florida Statute §61.08, significantly affecting Florida alimony laws. This bill was signed into law over the summer and will not apply to all pending divorces.
The changes apply to all alimony awards entered on or after July 1, 2010. The updated statute cannot be used as the basis for a modification of an alimony award determined before July 1 2010. The changes bring some clarity to what has long been a very murky area of family law. The updated statute provides Judges additional guidance in making alimony award determinations and actually provide some bright-line rules. The first step is still a factual determination as to the financial status of the couple involved, focusing on the party’s need for alimony and the other’s party’s ability to pay alimony.
Prior to the recent changes, a court had the authority to consider a number of factors as it determined whether alimony should be granted, and if so, in what amount. Those factors included:
a) The standard of living enjoyed by the couple;
b) The duration of the marriage;
c) Age and physical and mental condition of the parties;
d) The financial resources of each party;
e) Earning capacity, as well as education, skills and employability of the parties;
f) Contributions by the parties to the marriage;
g) Any other factors the court determines are relevant to an equitable alimony arrangement.
Under the new statute, there are now three additional factors for a judge to consider when making an alimony award in Florida:
a) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
b) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
c) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
Under the new alimony statute, marriages are divided into three categories of duration and more concrete time frames are provided for categorizing a marriage’s duration. The new law lengthens the amount of time the marriage must last before permanent alimony becomes a strong claim.
a) Short-term: less than seven years of marriage;
b) Moderate: between seven and 17 years;
c) Long-term: more than 17 years of marriage.