Alimony Statute in Tampa, FL

Who creates and modifies the alimony statute?


The Florida legislature creates all statutes including the alimony statute. Judge’s interpret and apply the legislature’s statute to award alimony in Florida divorce actions. This applies to initial alimony awards as well as to later modifications of alimony. The Florida alimony statute is section 61.08. There is also a large body of Florida case law that helps courts interoperate and apply the statute.


Why didn’t the statute pass last year?


The 2015 proposed alimony statute passed in both houses of the Florida legislature, but it did not make it to the governor for his signature due to the surprise early closing of the legislative session. The later special legislative session held in June 2015 did not address the 2015 alimony statute.


What were the proposed changes?


The 2015 proposed alimony statute would have changed the way alimony is calculated. Currently, the party requesting alimony must prove his or her need for alimony as well as the other party’s ability to pay. The court would then base an alimony ruling on these two components, taking into consideration each party’s sources of income and the parties’ standard of living during the marriage. A list of other factors are also considered. The court could then determine what type of alimony will be paid (permanent, durational, rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap or lump sum), how much, and for how long. The proposed statute supposedly simplifies the process by using a formula for determining the amount of alimony and the duration of the alimony payment based primarily upon the disparity in the parties’ incomes and the length of the marriage. The proposed statute would have made the most difference in very long-term and very short-term marriages, and it does not account for standard of living.


Proponents of the changes argue that the changes reflect and recognize changes in the roles of married men and women in the areas of both income generation and child-raising.


It is important to note that any quality case evaluation for cases which include a substantial alimony component needs to be conducted with an eye toward likely near-term changes to the alimony statute. It is no longer enough to know what the law is today. You also need to know the likely changes to the law, which may take place in the near future, and know if those changes may be retroactive.


Who would be affected by the statute changes?


The alimony statute change would most impact very short-term and very long-term marriages, specifically parties with a large income or a substantial income disparity. Additionally, a larger number of families facing a divorce will be impacted by any change in the alimony statute because this statute could be read to mandate some level of alimony in nearly every dissolution of marriage case, even those cases where alimony would not be awarded under the current statute.


Why is it important to know the statute changes?


An alimony bill that is similar to the 2015 proposed version will likely be passed in 2016. Your attorney needs to know how future legislation can impact your particular case, particularly if your case has an alimony component. You could fare better or worse under a new statute.


Why does our firm closely follow the alimony statute?


Keeping up with legislative changes in family law helps us to serve our clients better. Just knowing what the law is right now is no longer enough, because divorce cases can take time to move through the litigation process. The law at filing may not be the same as the law at trial. Even if a case does not go to trial, knowing what the law is and what the law could be can have a large impact on settlement negotiations.