If you are paying alimony, about to be paying alimony, or receiving alimony, I am sure that you have read all the latest on alimony reform in Florida. Everyone is talking about these wonderful calculations that will help put surety into the alimony system so that we can give clients floors and ceilings when determining an alimony amount. I am happy that we have floors and ceilings because as lawyers it helps us better predict what will happen in a court room. I have concern that we are moving towards someone’s actual need NOT being the basis for an alimony award. While there will be end dates for alimony which is nice, if you are married for over 20 years and are a high income spouse, your alimony is going to be quite high and could be up to 55% of your net income.
Here is an Example of the floors and ceilings for a 20 year marriage where one spouse earns $30,000.00 and the other spouse earns $200,000.00 would be as follows:
Low End- Alimony for 5 years at a rate of $3,500.00 per month (21% of payor's income)
High End- Alimony for 15 years at a rate of $5,600.00 per month (33.4% of payor's income)
Every year these amounts go up. Under the same scenario the floor and ceiling in a 21 year marriage is $3,700.00 and $5,900.00 per month. Basically, every year that you are married you can expect to be paying an additional 9.5% than divorcing a year earlier. That does not happen with the current alimony statute. The current alimony statute is strictly based upon need versus ability to pay. While I agree with most that that the current statute provides great discretion with judges, it also does not create a situation where a person is entitled to an extraordinary amount of alimony strictly based on their years of marriage. So, the moral of the story is if you are contemplating divorce and you have any alimony exposure, it does not help you to wait to file for divorce. Run do not walk to your nearest attorney’s office to file.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Florida on Monday became the thirty-sixth state to allow same-sex marriages, as a state court judge in Miami ordered a Dade County clerk to start issuing licenses to same-sex couples. This is something that Floridians have been waiting a long time for and it has become a reality. While there are still a great deal of people who are opposed to the idea of same sex couples being allowed to marry, the vast majority of Floridians were in favor of lifting the ban on gay marriage. Licenses are expected to be issued by other clerks across the state Tuesday morning, under an order by a federal trial judge. Orange County has started issuing licenses and a Circuit Court Judge has already started conducting ceremonies. Gay couples are now allowed to marry in civil ceremonies and those marriages will be recognized by the State of Florida. With marriage......comes divorce and it is just a matter of time before the Court hears the first "gay divorce". While the reasons for divorce are vast, many people get married too quickly and without really thinking it through and that seems to be a common theme in marriages that are less than 5 years. So..... my gay and lesbian friends I will give you the same advice I have been giving heterosexual couples for years............Think Before You Marry!!