Analysis of the Alimony Law at its Current Stage

The new alimony law is slowly making its way through the legislature.  It has not been signed by the governor as of the date of this blog.  Things could change in the analysis below, but this is where it stands:

The new alimony law creates a formula for calculating low range and high range presumptive alimony amounts.  Calculation is capped at 20 years of marriage.  It creates a formula for calculating the low range and high range presumptive alimony durations (low = 20%, high = 75%).  If the court awards alimony for a duration of less than 50% of the marriage it may still use the full length of the marriage in the calculation of the presumptive alimony amount. 

Marriages 2 years or less have a presumption against alimony unless there is a clear and convincing evidence showing otherwise.  Marriages more than 2 years, alimony is presumed within guidelines for amount and duration.  Taking into account expanded version of alimony factors.  The court may only deviate outside presumptive ranges with specific findings that it would be inappropriate or inequitable. 

The court may impute income to voluntarily unemployed or under employed spouses.

The court may order $1.00 per year as nominal alimony if historically supporting spouse lacks ability to pay at any time of trial, or if the spouse has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to earn full income.  The length of the nominal award is based on presumptive guidelines for the duration of alimony award. 

The judge may order alimony to be deductible or non-deductible. 

The alimony and child support cannot exceed 55% of the payer’s net income.

Alimony terminates upon death or re-marriage.

The payment must be made through the state depository, unless the party’s agree otherwise, or if there is no minor child. 

To modify alimony under the proposed new statute, the substantial change of circumstances warranting modification if a Party begins earning more income than was originally imputed to that Party.  It is also a substantial change of circumstances warranting modification if the alimony obligor is involuntarily unemployed or under employed for 6 months. 

For a supportive relationship, or cohabitation, the court can look back for a supportive relationship for 1 year.  The statute eliminates the burden on an obligor to prove supportive relationship by per ponderous of the evidence.  It also eliminates the “residing together” requirement.  Also, it expands factors to consider in modifying or eliminating the award.

Retirement is a reason for modification under the new statute.

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