Divorce and Alimony Law Tampa Bay, FL
Alimony Reform Returns in 2017 as Senate Bill 412 and HB 283
Recently, alimony reform bills were referred to the Children, Families & Elder Affairs, along with the Judiciary and Rules Committees continuing the annual fight for Florida Alimony Reform.
Alimony is a controversial topic in Florida, especially for couples who have divorced or who are considering divorce. But in the past, the issue of child support and time sharing has been intertwined with Alimony and to the detriment of the previous bills. Governor Scott apparently realized, that any language that hints to putting the parents’ needs before the child’s needs may in fact be detrimental to the children of Florida who rely on child support and time sharing with both parents.
Past vs. Present – Florida Alimony Reform
Scott believed the 2016 Florida Alimony Reform Bill put the best needs of the children behind the wants of the parents. However, back in 2013, The Florida Alimony Reform Bill was also vetoed by Scott because, he said, “It applies retroactively and thus tampers with the settled economic expectations of many Floridians who have experienced divorce.”
Governor Scott vetoed Florida’s Alimony Reform Bill in 2016, in part due to a 50/50 time sharing presumption which was included in the bill. Some say this is clearly absent in the 2017 Bill. The 2017 HB 283 Bill does however state on page 19/20 that “A finding that medical insurance is reasonably available or if the child support guidelines schedule constitutes changed circumstances, provided in s. 61.30(11)(c), the court may modify an order of support or, maintenance, by increasing or decreasing the support or, maintenance, retroactively to the date of the filing of the action or supplemental action for modification as equity requires, giving due regard to the changed circumstances or the financial ability of the parties or the child.
These newest Bills, like the previous ones propose guideline calculations for Judges to use when determining the amount of alimony that will be awarded and provide allowable deviations from those guidelines. Other notable changes are as follows:
Cohabitation and Supportive Relationships – This could be problematic on many levels. Interestingly, a former spouse who receives alimony no longer would need to reside with someone in order for them to be deemed as having a “supportive relationship.” If you are paying alimony, this will make it much easier to obtain a modification of alimony based on an alleged supportive relationship. However, the financial records of new spouses after your divorce, won’t be so easily accessible.
Duration of Alimony – Will Not Be Modifiable – Currently under Florida Law, the courts can modify the duration of certain types of alimony.
Alimony Guidelines – Although there will be allowable deviations that Judge’s can make, there would be specific alimony guidelines for the courts to adhere to.
Potential Income – Under-employment or work avoidance. Again, depending on whether you are paying or receiving alimony, the new provision of potential income can either help a payer reduce and modify their alimony based on the determination of an ex-spouse’s earning potential. This can clearly work to the advantage of some payers, but it could also be detrimental to others who were in long-term marriages with no work history.
Maximum Combined Award – The new bill will not allow a payer’s total combined payment of child support and alimony to be more than 55% of their net income.
Retirement – The new bill makes a presumption that retirement will affect the ability to pay their current or future alimony obligation upon retirement and provides temporary relief to a payer during the time that they are petitioning the courts to reduce or stop their payments.
If you are considering a divorce in 2017, or if you have any concerns or questions about how the New Florida Alimony Reform may effect you, please call to schedule a consultation with Tampa divorce and alimony attorney Nilo J. Sanchez & Associates.