Chadwick M. Layton, Esq.[i]
Harvey Waddell & Layton, P.A.
Permanent Alimony in Peril
The long road of those seeking to end Permanent Alimony Relief in divorce cases in Florida continues to wind its way through the legislature.
On March 17, 2015, a Florida House Sub-Committee passed proposed legislation which would end Permanent Alimony in Florida. The argument which proponents of alimony reform used to support this tidal change in divorce law is that disparate results continue to be rendered under the broad discretion provided to Family Law Judges all over the State of Florida. The current system allows far too much discretion for the Judges to determine the amount and duration of alimony.
Proponents of large scale alimony reform argue that a more structured system would reduce the amount of litigation connected to alimony throughout Palm Beach County and the State of Florida.
This Bill would provide an alimony formula to be used by the Court. A legal presumption would be created which uses the length of marriage and monthly income of the parties to calculate an alimony obligation. Under the new law, the duration of alimony and amount of alimony to be paid could become much more consistent and allow for the legal community to more accurately predict outcomes in divorce cases.
Some legislators and attorneys do not agree with this new formula which they feel creates a “one size fits all” measure that does not properly look to equity taking into account all circumstances of the parties. Many opposing the Alimony Bill say that the changes would favor the payor spouse over the recipient spouse. This argument is supported by the fact that Permanent Alimony would no longer be available and short-term marriage may not be eligible for alimony at all.
The legislation which was proposed in March 2015 to end Permanent Alimony as an available remedy in Florida divorce cases did not pass. However, the battle will continue and has gained significant traction over the last 24 months. I would not be surprised to see an alimony guidelines worksheet become reality in the near future which would allow attorneys and spouses to better predict what alimony award is available based upon the specific facts of each case including length of marriage, income earning capacity of each spouse, standard of living established during the marriage and other important factors defined under alimony law.
Harvey, Waddell & Layton has been located in downtown Lake Worth for over 40 years. We continue to provide ethical divorce counsel to each of our clients with the goal of achieving a responsible divorce without litigation.
If you or a friend has questions about divorce or a family law matter, do not hesitate to call us to schedule an initial divorce consultation.
[i] Chadwick M. Layton is a partner and shareholder at Harvey Waddell & Layton, P.A., located in downtown Lake Worth, he is also a member of the Florida Bar Family Law Section and the Susan Greenberg Family Law American Inn of Court of the Palm Beaches, further information is available at www.LaytonLawOffices.com or by calling to schedule an initial consultation. (561) 585-4631.