Florida alimony law and child support law changes you need to know

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Several changes to alimony and child support have been passed by the Florida Legislature and approved by the Governor, this past year. The Florida alimony law changes are effective as of July 1st, 2010. The Florida child support law changes will not become effective until October 1st, 2010. These revisions to our existing laws are in some cases merely a codification of certain principles we have been following based upon interpretation by the courts. In other instances the changes are somewhat substantial.

I will focus on the alimony revisions, since these changes are now law and apply to any dissolution filed after July 1st, 2010. The statute does indicate that these changes cannot be a basis for a modification of an existing alimony award prior to July 1st, 2010.

There are now listed four different types of alimony awards. They are; rehabilitative alimony, permanent alimony, bridge the gap alimony and durational alimony. Bridge the gap and durational alimony are two new forms of alimony that are officially recognized in the law. Prior to these changes, alimony awards consistent with the terms of durational or bridge the gap were often still being implemented in cases, but were not necessarily recognized by statute.

The new law has also defined certain areas in an attempt to clear up any confusion or ambiguities and limit certain discretion of the courts. There is now a rebuttable presumption (one that can still be overcome with credible evidence) as to how a marriage is defined based upon the length of marriage.

The following is now presumed:
Short term marriage is less than 7 years.
Moderate term marriage is greater than 7 years but less than 17.
Long term marriage is greater than 17 years.

The length of marriage is determined from the date of marriage until the date of the filing of an action for a Dissolution of Marriage. It appears that the date of separation is not going to be a factor in determining the length of a marriage. The following are the two new additional "types" of alimony:

Bridge the gap alimony is defined as an award of support to assist a party in making a transition from being married to being single and cannot exceed 2 years in duration. In addition, this award of alimony cannot be modified as to either the amount or the duration of time.

Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent alimony is inappropriate. It will be awarded for marriages of either short or moderate duration, provided that a party has the need for economic assistance. This award may not exceed the length of the marriage.

For the most part, with limited exceptions, permanent alimony will be awarded in a long term marriage.

I just touched upon the significant changes which have taken place. There are numerous other changes which I have not addressed. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Weston divorce attorney, Evan H. Baron, at 954 385-9160 to discuss this further.

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