Back For Round Three?
After months of inactivity, and still stinging from two resounding defeats, alimony reformers may be up for another go in 2017.
The Florida Family Law Bar indicated that it might sponsor another bill in the upcoming session, since a last-minute time sharing add-on probably killed the previous measure. One attorney wants to see a law that uses a formula similar to the one currently in place for child support. Under this proposal, alimony payments would be capped at a certain number of years based on the length of the marriage, at least in most cases. Reform advocates insist that such a provision would lead to more consistency in results and therefore more predictability during divorce litigation.
In addition to no add-ons, reformers vowed that the next measure would not be retroactive, a provision that Governor Rick Scott cited in vetoing the prior spousal support reform bill.
Kinds of Alimony in Florida
The purpose of spousal support is at the heart of alimony reform efforts in Florida and elsewhere. On the one side, some people consider alimony philosophically similar to child support, and spousal support payment are essentially a way to redistribute income between the former spouses. Some people disagree and insist that alimony payments are a means to an end, that end being the obligee spouse’s economic self sufficiency.
The types of alimony available under Section 61.08 address both sides of this debate.
- Temporary: Separation nearly always means a drastic loss in income at the same time there is a drastic increase in expenses, especially divorce-related items like attorneys’ fees. Alimony pendente lite (while the case is ongoing) helps obligee spouses pay these expenses, which is why this kind of spousal support automatically terminates when the judge signs the divorce order.
- Bridge-The-Gap: These payments are essentially extended temporary alimony, as they last a maximum two years. The funds provide money for interim living expenses during a prolonged job search or while the obligee works in a lower-paying job to re-enter the workforce.
- Rehabilitative: Some obligee spouses need to go back to school or take other similar measures to become self sufficient, and if they file rehabilitation plans with the judge and stick with those plans, obligor spouses must provide financial assistance.
- Durational: This is the most common type of income-redistribution alimony, and the duration of payments is limited to the length of the marriage.
- Permanent: If the obligee spouse is disabled, is caring for a disabled child, or otherwise will never become economically self-sufficient, the judge may award permanent alimony, in some cases.
Most of these types of alimony can be modified based on a change in circumstances, such as the obligor spouse’s retirement on an obligee spouse’s failure to follow a rehabilitation plan.
Factors to Determine Alimony Payments
In setting both the amount and duration of payments, judges may consider a number of different factors, including:
- Financial resources and earning capacity of each spouse,
- Noneconomic marital contributions as a caregiver or homemaker,
- Standard of living during the marriage,
- Duration of the marriage,
- Child custody orders, and
The overarching factor is the obligee’s financial need balanced against the obligor’s ability to pay.
Partner with Experienced Attorneys
Regardless of what reformers do or don’t do in 2017, spousal support will probably still be an integral part of Florida divorce settlements. For a free consultation with an assertive divorce lawyer in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, PA. Convenient payment plans are available.