Changes to Florida Alimony/Child Support Statutes

View Full Text of HB 907.

What follows is an analysis of the significant revisions to Florida’s Spousal  Support (Alimony) and child support laws by board certified divorce attorney Eddie Stephens.

Codifies all forms of alimony;  bridge-the-gap durational, rehabilitative, permanent alimony.  Court may award a combination.

Amendments to law apply to all initial awards of alimony entered after July 1, 2010, and modifications of such awards. Such amendments may not serve as a basis to modify awards entered before July 1, 2010, or as a basis to change amounts or duration of awards existing before July 1, 2010.

New factors:

(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.

(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.

(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.

Presumptions:

a) that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years

b) a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years

c) a long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater.

Bridge-the-gap Alimony:

May be awarded to assist a party by providing support to allow the party to make a transition from being married to being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony is designed to assist a party with legitimate identifiable short-term needs, and the length of an award may not exceed 2 years. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. An award of bridge-the-gap alimony shall not be modifiable in amount or duration.

Rehabilitative Alimony:

Awarded to assist a party in establishing the capacity for self-support through either:

1. The redevelopment of previous skills or credentials; or

2. The acquisition of education, training, or work 113 experience necessary to develop appropriate employment skills or 114 credentials.

Final Judgment or order of rehabilitative alimony must have findings of fact showing a “specific and defined rehabilitative plan”.

An award of rehabilitative alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances, upon noncompliance with the rehabilitative plan, or upon completion of the rehabilitative plan.

Durational Alimony:

Awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate.  The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration.

An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony.

The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances.

The length of durational alimony may not be modified absent exceptional circumstances.

The length of durational alimony may not exceed the length of the marriage.

Permanent Alimony:

Awarded to provide for the needs and necessities of life as they were established during the marriage of the parties for a party who lacks the financial ability to meet his or her needs and necessities of life following a dissolution of marriage.

Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration, following a marriage of moderate duration if such an award is appropriate upon consideration of the following factors:

An award of permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony.

An award may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances or upon the existence of a supportive relationship.

Child Support:

Becomes effective on January 1, 2o11.

All child support orders and income deduction orders entered on or after October 1, 2010, must provide:

a.  For child support to terminate on a child’s 18th 206 birthday unless otherwise agreed to by the parties;

b.  A schedule stating the amount of the monthly child support obligation for all the minor children at the time of the order and the amount of child support that will be owed for any remaining children after one or more of the children are no longer entitled to receive child support; and

c. The month, day, and year that the reduction or termination of child support becomes effective.

Establishes Child Support Guidelines Principles:

(1) Each parent has a fundamental obligation to support his or her minor or legally dependent child.

(2) The guidelines schedule is based on the parent’s combined net income estimated to have been allocated to the child as if the parents and children were living in an intact household.

(3) The guidelines encourage fair and efficient settlement of support issues between parents and minimizes the need for litigation.

Inputation:

Income shall be automatically imputed and there is a rebuttable presumption that the parent has income equivalent to the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from current population reports or replacement reports published by the United States Bureau of the Census when:

a) Information concerning a parent’s income is unavailable;

b) a parent fails to participate in a child support proceeding, or

c) a parent fails to supply adequate financial information in a child support proceeding.

In order for the court to impute income at an amount other than the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from the above reports the court must make specific findings of fact consistent with the requirements of this paragraph. The party seeking to impute income has the burden to present competent, substantial evidence that:

a. The unemployment or underemployment is voluntary; and

b. Identifies the amount and source of the imputed income, through evidence of income from available employment for which the party is suitably qualified by education, experience, current licensure, or geographic location, with due consideration being given to the parties’ time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.

Except as set forth in above paragraph income may not be imputed based upon:

a. Income records that are more than 5 years old at the time of the hearing or trial at which imputation is sought; or

b. Income at a level that a party has never earned in the past, unless recently degreed, licensed, certified, relicensed, or recertified and thus qualified for, subject to geographic location, with due consideration of the parties’ existing time-sharing schedule and their historical exercise of the time-sharing provided in the parenting plan or relevant order.

25% discount traditional applied to amount of day care of paying parent ELIMINATED.

Court may deviate based upon the impact of the Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption.

Changes substantial parenting adjustment (Gross Up Method) application from 40% to 20% percent of the overnights of the year.



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3 thoughts on “Changes to Florida Alimony/Child Support Statutes

  1. H. Matthew Fuqua

    Something that I have not gotten a handle on is –does the new 20% timesharing reduction go into effect for cases filed after January 1, 2011 or calculations made for cases filed prior to the January 1, 2011.

  2. Pingback: More legislative changes to Florida Family Law effective July 1, 2011 « Eddie Stephens, Board Certified Divorce Attorney

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