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Alimony and Time-Sharing Reform in Florida

Alimony. A bill has just passed the Florida Legislature and is now up for review by Gov. Scott. This bill has two effects: 1) it reforms the way alimony is calculated by creating a formula for courts to follow; and 2) it establishes a premise that divorcing parents should have 50/50 time-sharing with their children.

The legislation that passed replaces the long-standing forms of alimony available to divorcing spouses, like bridge-the-gap, durational, rehabilitative, and permanent alimony. The bill provides the courts with exact formulas to determine alimony. The formula has two spectrums, the “low end” and the “high end.”

Low End Alimony. Under the low end, you multiply the number of years married by 0.015 and then multiply the result by the difference in the Parties’ monthly gross income. For instance, if a couple has been married for 10 years, and Spouse A makes $100k gross and Spouse B makes $50k gross, Spouse A would pay Spouse B $625 per month (0.015 x 10 years = 0.15 x $50k [difference in gross income] = $7,500 / 12 months = $625).

High End Alimony. For the high end range, the multiplier is 0.20. The duration of any low end alimony is 1/4 the duration of the marriage and 3/4 of the duration for any high end alimony. Marriages in duration of 20 years or less would utilize the low end formula and any marriages over 20 years would use the high end formula. For marriages less than 2 years, however, there is a rebuttable presumption that no alimony is necessary, and therefore, will not be awarded.

Presumption of 50/50 Time-Sharing The new bill strikes a provision in the existing statutes, which says there is no presumption about time-sharing between parents, and the judge, using factors listed in Florida Statute, ?61.13, decides the time-sharing schedule for the parties, based on the best interest of the child. The new law, in effect, creates a presumption that every case involving child custody/time-sharing issues starts with a 50/50 time-sharing between the parents. The legislature believes that this equal time-sharing “premise” is in the best interest of every child. There are still many opponents to this legislation and it may end up being vetoed by Gov. Scott. In order for a Judge to overcome the presumption of equal time-sharing and order something other than 50/50, he or she will have to make detailed findings that it is not in the child(ren)’s best interest (i.e., the father has committed domestic violence or the mother is incarcerated, etc.).