Every family law practitioner in the state along with any person considering a divorce is waiting on the Governor, again. Last year, Governor Desantis let a bill die on his desk on July 1, 2022, that would have altered and deleted permanent periodic alimony. This year, we’re all waiting with bated breath to see if he does the same or if he will pass Senate Bill 1416 into law.
What does the bill consist of and what changes would we expect to see as a result of it. The bill addresses several things, eliminating an unanticipated change in bringing modifications, defining more specifically a supportive relationship, but above all the biggest change is regarding alimony. Senate Bill 1416, if signed into law, would instigate significant reforms to the way alimony is handled in the state, marking the end of an era for permanent alimony and ushering in a new approach centered on fairness, consideration of individual circumstances, and the promotion of self-sufficiency.
These changes are set to significantly alter the landscape of divorce settlements and the awarding of alimony. In this blog, we'll delve into the critical alimony changes introduced by SB 1416 and what they might mean for you, whether you're contemplating divorce, currently navigating the process, or considering a modification of your current alimony arrangement.
Arguably, the most notable change introduced by SB 1416 is the elimination of permanent alimony. However, the state of Florida will recognize four types of alimony:
These forms of support can be ordered as lump-sum payments or as periodic installments, depending on the specifics of the case.
The new law would usher in several additional factors that courts will consider when determining alimony. The Court now must lay out a finding of fact not only for the type of alimony awarded (if any) but also a basis for the length of time of any award. Furthermore, the bill codifies the case law in multiple respects: it lays out that the party seeking alimony is the party with the burden to prove need and ability to pay and it also codifies that to secure alimony with life insurance there must be some type of special circumstance.
The Court must now also consider the anticipated needs and necessities of life after the litigation not just the lifestyle of the parties during a marriage, a parties mental health and if the mental health condition is permanent or temporary, if someone can obtain skills or education to contribute to their own survival, and the economic aftermath of adultery instead of just the circumstances surrounding it.
If you’re seeking alimony you may be putting your money where your mouth is in order to prove you need it. The District Courts are split on what “need” means and the bill doesn’t change or clarify that (Hello, Supreme Court!).
So, unless you're of retirement age or there's something preventing you from working, you'll likely be expected to seek employment. If you don’t think you can, you’re going to need to provide medical records or even a vocational expert to explain how and why you can’t.
The new law also introduces modifications to the durational alimony structure. Durational alimony may not be awarded in a marriage less than three years in length. The length of durational alimony is now prescribed – not to exceed 50% of a short-term marriage (which would be less than 10 years – a change from the current 7 years), 60% of a moderate-term marriage (which would be 10-20 years – a change from the current 7-17 years), and 75% of a long-term marriage (which would be 20 years or more – a change from the current 17+ years).
It also now prescribes for the first time some type of formula for a guideline for the amount of alimony. This is huge considering the Courts have previously had complete discretion over the amount provided it did not leave the payor destitute. The amount of durational alimony will be determined by reasonable need or not to exceed 35% of the difference between the net incomes of the parties, whichever is less.
The landscape of alimony in Florida has undergone significant changes with the possible introduction of SB 1416. This new legislation emphasizes fairness and the promotion of self-sufficiency while still recognizing the financial needs that can arise in the aftermath of a divorce. However, navigating these changes and understanding how they apply to your specific situation can be a complex task.
That's where Maria Indelicato, family law attorney at Aaron Delgado & Associates, can help. With her extensive knowledge and experience in Florida family law, Maria can provide further information on these reforms, help you understand their potential impact on your situation, and guide you through your family law matters with compassion and expertise.
Don't navigate these significant changes alone. Reach out to Maria for the legal advice and support you need during this transitional time. Contact Maria today to schedule a consultation and begin the process of understanding and addressing your unique family law needs.