Will A New Alimony Rule Cause Florida Divorce Rates To Spike?
Some of the most prominent family law attorneys in the state say yes. The tax law changes on January 1, 2019, and any divorces finalized before then will remain subject to the old law.
Currently, spousal support payments are deductible for the obligor (spouse paying the support). The obligee (person receiving alimony) must report these payments as income.
The 2018 tax reform law reversed the tax burden. Beginning next January, alimony payments will be taxed like child support payments. The obligor will not get a deduction and the obligee need not report it as income. The change was designed to help obligees, who are mostly women.
But many attorneys predict that the opposite will happen. For example, under the current law, an obligor may pay $100,000 in alimony but get a $50,000 tax break. Starting in 2019, that same obligor could argue that he can only afford to pay $50,000.
Factors in Determining Florida Alimony
The other spousal support laws are unaffected. The tax consequences of alimony payments are one factor in determining the amount and duration of payments, but they are essentially a minor factor. Some other more important ones include:
- Financial Resources of Each Spouse: The court must consider all income available to each spouse to determine the obligor’s ability to pay and the obligee’s need. In some cases, the obligee’s need may be permanent.
- Standard of Living During the Marriage: The divorce should not be an unfair financial burden on either party. Statistically, divorced women have a harder time maintaining their prior standard of living, so they may need supplemental income.
- Spousal Agreements: Port St. Lucie judges usually uphold agreements that are not completely one-sided. As a side note, if you revise a premarital agreement after January 2019, you must state that the alimony provisions are to remain under the old law.
- Child Custody: Most Florida judges like to keep the children in the family home if at all possible. If the custodial parent needs some financial help to make that happen, such assistance often comes in the form of alimony. If one of the children is disabled, more assistance may be available.
Fault in the breakup of the marriage may be a consideration as well, especially if it involved dissipation (waste) of marital assets. If Husband spent $50,000 on gifts for a girlfriend, Wife may be entitled to some of that money in the form of alimony or an uneven property division.
Types of Alimony in Port St. Lucie
Florida judges have considerable discretion in setting the amount of payments. They also have some choices when setting the duration of payments. There are several different types of alimony available in Florida. A judge may order one of them, some of them, or none of them.
- Temporary alimony provides short-term funds for things like attorneys’ fees, tuition to finish a college degree, and real estate deposits.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony is essentially longer term temporary alimony. Temporary alimony terminates when the case is over and bridge-the-gap alimony can last for up to two years.
- Rehabilitative alimony is available for as long as the obligee spouse sticks to a written rehabilitation plan which the judge approves.
- If other types of alimony are insufficient, durational alimony may be an option. These payments are capped at the length of the marriage (g. a twenty-year marriage means twenty years of alimony).
- If the obligee will never become self-sufficient, a Florida judge can order permanent alimony.
Most alimony awards can be modified upon a showing of changed financial circumstances.
Contact Experienced Lawyers
The alimony/tax rules are changing significantly. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.