Alimony Equality? How Does Florida’s Proposed Law Compare to Pennsylvania?

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A bill has been sent to Florida Governor Rick Snyder that provides a detailed formula for determining an alimony award. A specific formula for determining an alimony award is a significant departure from how Florida previously determined alimony, and significantly different than how Pennsylvania determines it. Alimony is payments for the support of the dependent spouse (the spouse who earned less money during the marriage) after a divorce has been finalized. In Pennsylvania, alimony is determined on a case-by-case basis based on 17 factors provided by statute. Some notable factors in Pennsylvania are: the relative earning capacities of the parties; the length of the marriage; the contributions of one party to the education, training, or increased earning capacity of the other party; the standard of living the parties established during the marriage; the relative needs of the parties; the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker.

The factors-approach gives the court great flexibility in fashioning an alimony award, both in terms of amount and duration. It is for this reason that predicting at the outset of a case what an alimony award might be at the conclusion of the case is nearly impossible. The formula-approach under consideration in Florida provides greater predictability, but likely suffers from the same failings as other formula-approaches in that a single formula will not adequately address the needs of every case.