Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Long Term Marriage and Alimony Reform

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.

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