Alimony reform in Florida appears to be on hold for 2014. The pressures of an election year seem to have taken a toll on those seeking significant alimony reform this year. Supporters of reform however are not likely to give up and the issue may be coming back in future legislative sessions.
A recent Central Florida case was heard by the District Court of Appeals which determined that a trial court erred by allowing the cost of contributions to a 401(k) and a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to be deducted from the former wife’s income for the purposes of determining available income for alimony.
Calculation of alimony is often determined in part by comparing the income of both spouses and assessing each person’s needs and ability to pay. Some payments are allowed to be subtracted from each party’s income before the alimony is calculated. The District Court of Appeals used Florida Statute 61.30(3) to describe allowable deductions which include deductions for health insurance, court ordered support, mandatory union dues and mandatory retirement payments (among others).
The Court determined in this Lake County case that because the wife had the ability to change or eliminate her contributions to both her 401(k) and FSA plan that these payments were not mandatory. Therefore the payments must be included as part of her monthly income for the purposes of calculating alimony.
What Is The Impact?
Calculation of alimony can be complicated and contentious since Florida does not have a statute providing specific guidance on the calculation. Often, income deductions can make an impact to the spouse making the payment, but the amount of impact varies greatly from situation to situation.
In my experience, I rarely see 401(k) or FSA plans that are truly mandatory. The most frequent place I see mandatory retirement contributions are primarily with government, public safety and union jobs. If these things are at issue in your case, make sure to discuss the details of the FSA and retirement plans with your attorney.
DCA Case#: 5D12-2234 (August 2013)
If you are getting ready to start paying, or receiving child support payments, there is a good chance you will have to start working with the Florida State Disbursement Unit (FLSDU). The Disbursement Unit is a state run organization that provides a central location for people to pay and receive child support payments.
We have created an informational document about the FLSDU for those of you who need to pay or receive child support through the Florida State Disbursement Unit. We hope you will find helpful. If there is any other information about working with the disbursement unit you that need, please let me know and we will try to add it!
If you move and you have a family law case in Florida, even if it is closed, you may need to update the court with your latest address. If your case is open and you have an attorney, your attorney’s address is used for court notification. However, if you are self-represented (pro se) you need to update the court and the opposing party of your address change or you may miss important notifications.
Even if your case is closed, if you are paying or receiving any kind of support such as child support or alimony, you may also need to update your address! We have recently updated our self-help section with a document about how to update your address with the court.