Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A.
Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach And Wellington, Florida Offices 561-328-1095

Florida Alimony Reform Bill 2015 Fails in the Florida Legislature

Florida Alimony Reform legislation recently failed in the Florida legislature with the early departure of the Florida House of Representatives on April 28, 2015. A special session for the Florida legislature is likely to take place on June 1, 2015, however, Alimony Reform legislation may or may not be addressed at that time.

The main point of disagreement between the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate was language that was contained in the Florida Senate version of the alimony reform bill which provided that equal time-sharing with minor children by both parents is presumed to be in the best interest of the children. The members of the Florida House of Representatives felt that each case is unique, and that the courts are in the best position to reach time-sharing determinations without preconceived guidelines. Whether consensus is able to be reached on these positions is yet to be determined.

The Alimony Reform bill created guidelines, comprised of presumptive alimony amounts and presumptive alimony durations.

The following formula was utilized to calculate the low end of the presumptive alimony amount: (0.015 x the years of marriage) x the difference between the monthly gross incomes of the parties. The following formula was utilized to calculate the high end of the presumptive alimony amount: (0.020 x the years of marriage) x the difference between the monthly gross incomes of the parties.

The following formula was utilized to calculate the low end of the presumptive durational range: 0.25 x the years of marriage. The following formula was utilized to calculate the high end of the presumptive durational range: 0.75 x the years of marriage.

In determining the amount and duration of an alimony award, the court was to consider several factors, including, without limitation: (i) the income and financial resources of the recipient and the ability of the recipient to meet his or her reasonable needs; (ii) the income and financial resources of the payor and the ability of the payor to meet his or her reasonable needs while paying alimony; (iii) the standard of living experienced by the parties during the marriage; (iv) the distribution of the parties' assets and whether an unequal distribution was made to reduce the need for alimony; (v) the parties' income and employability; (vi) the need for educational or vocational training; (vii) past demonstrated earning potential; (viii) forbearance in pursuing educational or employment opportunities; (ix) depletion of marital assets; (x) the amount of temporary alimony awarded; (xi) the age and physical and mental condition of the parties; (xii) contributions to the marriage; (xiii) tax consequences of the award; and (xiv) any other factors required to bring about a just and equitable result.

Income that was to be included for purposes of calculating alimony under the presumptive alimony guidelines was all recurring income from any source. It included, without limitation: (i) salaries, (ii) commissions, (iii) income earned as an independent contractor, (iv) bonuses, (v) dividends, (vi) severance pay, (vii) pension payments and retirement benefits, (viii) royalties, (ix) rental income (gross receipts minus expenses), (x) interest, (xi) trust income and distributions which are regularly received or readily available, (xii) annuity payments, (xiii) capital gains, (xiv) money drawn by a self-employed individual for personal use that is deducted as a business expense, (xv) social security benefits, (xvi) workers' compensation benefits, (xvii) unemployment insurance benefits, (xviii) disability insurance benefits; (xix) funds received from any health, accident, disability, or casualty insurance to the extent that such payments replace wages or provide income in lieu of wages, (xx) continuing monetary gifts, (xxi) income from businesses, (xxii) expense reimbursements or in-kind payments or benefits received in the course of employment or operation of a business which reduce living expenses, and (xxiii) overtime pay.

Income that was to be excluded for purposes of calculating alimony under the presumptive alimony guidelines included: (i) child support payments, (ii) benefits received from public assistance programs, (iii) social security benefits received by a parent on behalf of a minor child as a result of the death or disability of a parent or stepparent, (iv) earnings or gains from retirement accounts, except that such earnings or gains shall be included as income if a party takes a distribution from the account.

Alimony is deductible from the payor's income and includable in the recipient's income, unless otherwise stated in the judgment awarding alimony. A court may, in its discretion, order that alimony will not be deducted from the payor's income and will not be included in the recipient's income. The parties may agree in writing that alimony will not be deducted from the payor's income and will not be included in the recipient's income.

To speak with a Florida alimony attorney in Palm Beach County, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 651-7273.

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