2015 Florida Alimony Reform – Proposed Factors for Alimony

In a previous post, I wrote about Florida House Bill 943 and the proposed alimony guidelines contained in the bill.  Florida currently has no guidelines for alimony, and the bill creates formulas which would implement presumptive ranges for the amount and duration of alimony that a judge could order, making awards more predictable.

As an update to my prior post, HB 943 has been amended.  As of the date I am writing this, the years of marriage is multiplied by 1.5%, rather than 1.25%, in the formula to determine the low amount of alimony that a judge could order.  There are likely to be more changes to the bill before the it passes both houses of the Florida legislature and is signed into law (if, indeed, it makes it that far).

So, if the alimony guidelines become official, where in the range of amount and duration of alimony will any particular award fall?  The bill sets out certain factors to help a judge make this decision:

 The financial resources (including actual and potential income) and ability of each spouse to meet his or her reasonable needs independently;

 The standard of living of the parties during the marriage with consideration that neither party may be able to maintain that standard of living as there will be two households after the divorce;

 Whether there was an equitable distribution of marital property;

 Both parties’ income, employment, and employability, obtainable through reasonable diligence and additional training or education, and the details of such additional training or education plans;

 Reduction in employment due to the needs of an unemancipated child of the marriage or the circumstances of the parties;

 Whether either party has foregone or postponed economic, educational, or employment opportunities during the course of the marriage;

 Whether either party has caused the unreasonable depletion or dissipation of marital assets;

 The amount of temporary alimony and the amount of time it was paid to the recipient spouse;

 The age, health, and physical and mental condition of the parties, including health care needs and unreimbursed health care expenses;

 Significant economic or noneconomic contributions to the marriage or to the economic, educational, or occupational advancement of a party;

 The tax consequence of the alimony award; and

 Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Many of these factors are similar to the current items a judge must consider before awarding alimony.  However, a couple of these are new or are slightly different.

Though current factors require a judge to consider the standard of living of the parties during the marriage, the new proposed factor states explicitly that the parties should not expect to be able to maintain the same standard of living in two households as compared to when everyone lived in the same household.

Further, alimony is oftentimes paid during divorce proceedings.  This is known as Temporary Alimony.  For the first time, this bill instructs judges to consider the amount and duration of Temporary Alimony paid when determining a final alimony award.

One major downside to these proposed factors (and the current factors) is that they still bring divorcing spouses’ finances into to the public scrutiny of the courthouse.   If spouses want to maintain their privacy, their best bet is still to reach an agreement on alimony, which most judges will gladly ratify.  The collaborative divorce process allows parties to privately reach an alimony agreement with the assistance of an accountant or financial adviser to help them decide an amount and duration of support that is appropriate for their family.

If you have questions regarding alimony or the pending legislation, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A. at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.

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About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at www.FamilyDiplomacy.com. Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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