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Divorce Alimony – Where in the Range Do You Fall?

A range is good, but a number is better.

As discussed in my earlier post on range-based alimony, the proposed new alimony law establishes a presumptive range for alimony. This range can be quite wide depending on the relative income of the parties and the length of the marriage before divorce. How will the court decide on the specific amount of alimony in cases that involve a wide presumptive range?

Under the law as it exists today, the court must decide what type of alimony to order, such as bridge the gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent. The court also has to decide how much alimony the payor has to pay and the length of time that alimony must be paid.  The existing law provides factors for the court to consider.

The proposed new alimony law does the same thing. It includes a list of factors that the court must consider when determining the amount and duration of alimony.

The factors under the proposed new law are very similar to the old law, but there are differences. Some factors are expressed with different language and different levels of detail. Even slight differences in language can make a big difference to the courts when trying to interpret and apply the law. It is interesting to note that there are some new factors in the proposed new alimony law.  At least one old factor is not explicitly included in the new law.

Now I will dig deep and apply some good old-fashioned “textual analysis” that we used in my old religious studies undergrad class. We would stack the gospels side by side to see how they differed, which could highlight interesting similarities and differences. Wouldn’t it be great to apply that to alimony factors?  Of course, it would!  Here goes:

Fla. Stat. 61.08 (2014) Proposed New Alimony Law Fla. Stat. 61.08
(a) The standard of living established during the marriage. 3. The standard of living of the parties during the marriage with consideration that there will be two households to maintain after the dissolution of the marriage and that neither party may be able to maintain the same standard of living after the dissolution of the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage. [Duration of the marriage is built into the proposed formula that establishes the presumptive range, so it is not included as an additional factor.]
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party. 11. The age, health, and physical and mental condition of the parties, including consideration of significant health care needs or uninsured or unreimbursed health care expenses.
(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each. 4. The equitable distribution of marital property, including whether an unequal distribution of marital property was made to reduce or alleviate the need for alimony.
(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
5. Both parties’ income, employment, and employability, obtainable through reasonable diligence and additional training or education, if necessary, and any necessary reduction in employment due to the needs of an unemancipated child of the marriage or the circumstances of the parties.
6. Whether a party could become better able to support himself or herself and reduce the need for ongoing alimony by pursuing additional educational or vocational training along with all of the details of such educational or vocational plan, including, but not limited to, the length of time required and the anticipated costs of such educational or vocational plan.
7. Whether one party has historically earned higher or lower income than the income reflected at the time of trial and the duration and consistency of income from overtime or secondary employment.
(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party. 12. Significant economic or noneconomic contributions to the marriage or to the economic, educational, or occupational advancement of a party, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party, payment by one spouse of the other spouse’s separate debts, or enhancement of the other spouse’s personal or real property.8. Whether either party has foregone or postponed economic, educational, or employment opportunities during the course of the marriage.
(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. 13. The tax consequence of the alimony award.
(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party. [The proposed new alimony formula requires each party’s income to be determined.  The alimony law provides that gross income includes investment income (but not retirement accounts unless the income is actually being distributed or could be distributed, but is instead deferred).
(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties. 14. Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
[Existing caselaw permits recovery of depleted or wasted marital assets, but dissipation and waste are not included as an explicit factor in the existing alimony statute.] 9. Whether either party has caused the unreasonable depletion or dissipation of marital assets.
10. The amount of temporary alimony and the number of months that temporary alimony was paid to the recipient spouse.

A skilled attorney can always use the “catch all” factor to bring to the court’s attention any information that should be considered but is not explicitly included in the statute.

Call me at 407-284-1620 if you’d like to schedule a free consultation to discuss your alimony case.

-Mike DeVoe

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