A new Florida Alimony Statute went into effect as of July 1, 2011. While many hoped for reform in Florida’s alimony structure the new law did not make any significant changes to alimony laws in Florida and mostly served to clarify and define prior new laws.
Summary of new changes:
- Short-term marriage (a marriage under 7 years long) – For a court to award permanent alimony to a party there must be exceptional circumstances which are clearly documented.
- Moderate-term marriage (a marriage 7-17 years long) – For a court to award permanent alimony it must be supported by “clear and convincing evidence.”
- Barring exceptional circumstances the person paying alimony cannot be left with significantly less income than the party receiving the alimony.
- A judge must have some form of stated reason that no other form of alimony – such as short term alimony – would be reasonable before awarding permanent alimony.
Often times the circumstances surrounding a divorce can be extreme. Exceptional circumstances are facts which exceed any everyday situation. These can include things which neither party has control over, such as a spouse which becomes completely disabled through accident or disease. It can also be situations that involve chosen wrong or vengeful acts which could permanently damage the other spouse’s career. These are examples of things which may be considered adequate reasons for a spouse to be awarded permanent alimony following a short term marriage. However, the shorter the marriage the more extreme these circumstances must be.
Clear and Convincing Evidence:
Within divorce court decisions can be made upon the “more likely than not” standard for facts and evidence. However, with new alimony reform for permanent alimony to be awarded to a spouse in a medium length marriage the evidence must be at the level of “no-brainer.” Evidence that is almost capable of speaking for itself in court.
Significantly Less Income:
This is the hardest to define phrasing of the new alimony law and it is likely to cause a great deal of argument in Florida’s family law courts.
While moderate, the changes that the 2011 alimony law brings will apply to all new orders signed by the courts after July 1, 2011. It will also apply to any alimony modifications which occur after July 1, 2011. Pending cases as of July 1, 2011 are also included.
Comments on the new 2011 Florida Alimony Law: Final thoughts on the new 2011 Florida Alimony Law:
Many alimony attorneys believe that judges will make their decision and then support said decision with legally sound reasoning. As a result, many do not expect these laws to have any form of immediate or significant effect on family law trials. If a judge requires “exceptional circumstances” to ground their decision upon they will look to the facts in the case for something which qualifies.
With time court decisions that do not meet the standards of the new law will be reversed by appellate courts. This can help guide trial court judges in their application on the new statue. Law is a slow process and it can take years for revisions to take effect.
It is worth noting that you cannot modify an old alimony award if no circumstances have changed other than the alimony stature. If you need help or have questions regarding your alimony matters contact Jeffrey Feulner and the Orlando Family Law Firm the Men’s Divorce Law Firm today.