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Proposed Changes to Spousal Support and Alimony Law

March 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized


We also have our eye on Senate Bill 718, which proposes to completely alter the discretion judges currently have to award alimony, imposes severe limits on awards of spousal support, and makes substantial changes to the most recent changes to the law on spousal support which already made it more difficult for the disadvantaged spouse to obtain an award of spousal support and provided substantial relief to the higher-earning spouse. The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar opposes Senate Bill 718 and the bill has been discussed by my family law practitioners in the media because of the drastic changes to the current law. While many practitioners have expressed a desire for more predictable outcomes in order to achieve settlement without court intervention, the general consensus seems to be that Senate Bill 718 goes too far in limiting spousal support and promotes gender inequality, as women tend to be the recipients of spousal support.

Current Law: The current version of the Fla.Stat.61.08 which was enacted in just the last couple of years, defined a short term marriage as 1-7 years, a moderate term marriage of 7-17 years, and a long-term marriage of 17 years. After a 17 year marriage, there was a presumption that permanent alimony as appropriate. The last version of the statute also established durational alimony and capped it at the length of the marriage, and made permanent alimony the alimony of last resort.

Marriage Length: The proposed statute would consider any marriage up to 10 years a short-term marriage. A couple would have to be married at least 20 years to have a long-term marriage. However, permanent alimony is stricken from this new version of the statute and a spouse can only receive durational alimony up to half of the length of the marriage (instead of permanent alimony or alimony up to the length of the marriage). The statute also provides that there is a presumption that no alimony is appropriate in a marriage of up to ten years.

Retirement Age: The proposed statute also sets a limit up to the recipient’s spouse’s normal retirement age (65 or 67 depending on year of birth) for social security retirement benefits, even if the award would be cut short of the 50% length of the marriage. If a 55 year-old were to get divorced after a 30 year marriage and could prove he or she had the need for support and the other spouse had the ability to pay, the award would last for ten years until the spouse reached the age of 65 when it would automatically terminate unless the recipient of the spousal support went back to court. Previously, the burden was on the person paying support to ask the court to reduce or terminate the award of spousal support.

Cap on Income: Another change is to establish a 33% cap on the percentage of net income a court can take from a paying spouse. Interestingly, the statute does not impose any baseline threshold of the percentage of net income.

Retroactivity: The statute allows nearly any person currently paying spousal support to ask the Court to modify their spousal support obligation to comport to the new statute.


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Disclaimer: The Law Offices of Robert Hanreck, P.A. is based in Miami , Florida and serves clients throughout the State including Miami-Dade and Broward counties. We are licensed to practice law in the State of Florida. This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal advice, or solicit clients outside of the State of Florida.