By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Alimony on Wednesday, March 11, 2015.

With the Legislature in session, alimony reform in Florida is on the top of everyone’s minds. Last week I pointed out the heart of the new statute, alimony guidelines. But there are some other new updates in the bill.

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Income and Potential Income

Under the current statute, income is not well defined. Under the proposed law, there will be an extensive list of what income is for alimony.

There is also a new item: “potential income”. Potential income is income which could be earned using your best efforts. In other words, if you were employed before, potential income is the income you could earn by working at a locally available, full-time job commensurate with your education, training, and experience. If you have investments, it would be the reasonably expected return from your investments.

Underemployed

Are you underemployed? Under the new statute, “underemployed” means you are not working full-time in a position which is appropriate, based upon your educational training and experience, and available near your residence.

Standard of Living

Standard of living was historically a major factor in awarding alimony. But under the proposed statute, the standard of living for two households will be presumed to be lower than a single-married household, and that judges must consider that fact.

Absolute Maximum Alimony Payment

The bill would limit the total alimony and child support payment by prohibiting the amount from exceeding more than 55% of the payor’s net income. Under the current statute there is no alimony maximum.

New Spouses

I’ve written extensively about the impact of a new spouse on discovery. Can you subpoena a new husband’s tax returns or take his deposition?

The financial information of a new spouse is inadmissible, and may not be considered as a part of any modification action, unless a party is claiming that his or her income has decreased since the marriage.

Even then, the financial information of the new spouse is discoverable and admissible only to the extent necessary to establish whether the party claiming that his or her income has decreased is diverting income or assets to the subsequent spouse that might otherwise be available for the payment of alimony.

Prevailing Party Attorneys’ Fees

The new bill requires the side that unnecessarily promotes or defends against an alimony modification to pay fees to the other side. This is popularly known as a “prevailing party” attorneys’ fee provision.

Besides the guidelines, which totally change the way alimony is decided in Florida, the new alimony reform bill contains a lot of new ideas and ways of deciding on the amount and term of alimony. The bill is something to follow.

House bill 943 can be read here.

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