Alimony and Reform in Florida
Anyone in the Orlando area who is considering divorce should think about whether she or he may be required to pay alimony or may be entitled to receive alimony. The Court considers several factors when determining whether alimony is appropriate. These factors include but are not limited to,
- The length of the marriage
- The age of the parties
- The work history, incomes, and earning potential of the parties
- The lifestyle the parties were accustomed to during the marriage
- Whether the person who would be paying alimony has the ability to pay alimony and whether the person that is to receive alimony has a need for alimony
Alimony—and the topic of alimony reform specifically—has been a significant issue in Florida for quite some time. Indeed, alimony is among the most fiercely litigated issues in divorce court in Florida, and disagreements can often pitch a couple into another stratosphere of hatred and acrimony.
Unlike child support, there are no Florida Statutes or case law that provide a formula for calculating alimony which can lead to inconsistencies in rulings from case to case. For example, you can have one case pending in Orange County Florida with the same facts as a case pending in Seminole County Florida yet get different alimony awards in each case. This issue makes alimony one of the most litigated issues in divorce proceedings. The attorney that you choose to represent you in a case involving alimony can make a significant impact on the outcome of your case. It is incredibly important that you hire an attorney that is well versed in alimony and is a seasoned trial attorney to address these sorts of issues.
For many years, alimony payments have been tax deductible to the paying spouse and taxable to the receiving spouse. In January 2019, new laws took effect which now make the payment taxable to the paying spouse causing the receiving spouse to receive net non-taxable dollars. This new law is not applicable retroactively and only applies to cases that have not yet been finalized as of December 31, 2018. This was a huge change to the way Florida Courts have addressed alimony for many years and has lead to changes in how the Courts address alimony.
Different Types of Alimony in Florida
In Florida, alimony is money that one spouse pays to the other spouse after a divorce. It is also known in some states as spousal maintenance or spousal support. Under Florida law, there are several different kinds of alimony that may be awarded during a divorce:
- Temporary alimony: like the name suggests, temporary alimony is temporary. This type of alimony is awarded during the divorce process until the court can finalize the divorce (and another type of alimony, if the court decides it is appropriate).
- Bridge-the-gap alimony: this type of alimony has a temporal limitation of two years maximum, and it is designed to help the spouse receiving alimony to get back on his or her feet in the immediate period after the divorce.
- Rehabilitative alimony: this type of alimony results in the payor spouse providing money to the payee spouse so that the latter can become an earner—through education, licensure, or another professional training program.
- Durational alimony: this type of alimony gets paid to the payee spouse on a monthly basis, but it is limited temporally, or in terms of its duration. The maximum time allowed is the duration of the couple’s marriage.
- Permanent alimony: this type of alimony lasts for the remainder of the parties’ lives.
Disputes Over Alimony Reform
As the Tampa Bay Times article underscores, the majority of alimony reform initiatives in Florida have concerned permanent alimony. In short, some groups want to put an end to permanent alimony, while others argue that it is essential for some people. Some of the proposed bills would have applied retroactively, resulting in cuts to alimony awards.
While the article highlights how another alimony reform bill was submitted to one of the legislative subcommittees in March 2019, the absence of a bill on the subcommittee’s calendar suggests that “alimony reform [is] dead in 2019.” However, another alimony reform measure could be introduced in the future.
Contact an Orlando Alimony Lawyer
Alimony can be an extremely contentious issue. Accordingly, it is always important to have an experienced Orlando spousal support attorney on your side to advocate for your rights. Contact Anderson & Ferrin for more information about how we can assist with your divorce case.