2013 FLORIDA ALIMONY REFORM GUIDE

As many are beginning to realize, the Florida Legislature is closing in on passing a comprehensive alimony reform bill that, as written, stands to eliminate permanent alimony in Florida.

Christopher R. Bruce, a West Palm Beach Alimony Lawyer and partner of Nugent Zborowski & Bruce, recently explained some of the pros and cons of the alimony reform legislation to Chuck Weber, a journalist and reporter with WPEC-TV CBS 12, in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Mr. Bruce’s interview, which aired on April 8, 2013, can be viewed by clicking here.

On April 4, 2013, Senate Bill 718 passed in the Florida Senate by a vote of 29-11.  The bill, which can be viewed here, has the following highlights:

  • The bill constitutes a “substantial change in circumstances” that applies retroactivally to many court orders and settlement agreements pertaining to alimony.  This provision will allow many alimony payors to modify alimony previously set by a judge or in a settlement agreement if the amount of the alimony or term of the alimony payments exceed the guidelines below;
  • The length of alimony awards are limited to one-half the length of the marriage;
  • There is a strong presumption against alimony in marriages lasting less than 11 years.  In such marriages, alimony is limited to 25% of the payor’s gross income;
  • There is no presumption for or against alimony in marriages lasting between 11 and 20 years.  In such marriages, alimony is limited to 35% of the payor’s gross income; and
  • There is a presumption in favor of alimony in marriages lasting longer than 20 years.  In such marriages, alimony is limited to 38% of the payor’s gross income.
  • There is a clarification as to how alimony can be terminated or modified upon a payor reaching a reasonable retirement age.

The next step in the legislative process will take place in the Florida House, which has a similar alimony reform bill.  House Bill 231 can be viewed here, and is expected by many to pass as similar legislation was approved by the House by a 3-1 margin in 2012.  If the bill passes the Florida House, there will need to be a reconciliation of the bill with Senate Bill 718, and any legislation would need to be signed by Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott.

For more information on Florida’s alimony laws, click to view Florida Alimony Resource Guide, or call 561-844-1200 to schedule a conversation with one of our West Palm Beach Divorce Lawyers.