Wednesday February 20, 2019
2018 was an eventful year for couples wanting to get divorced. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will change the mindset of all people in 2019. Because of this massive change ahead, many couples decided to give it up and finalize their divorce settlement in 2018. However, it would be wrong to believe that 2018 brought no changes in divorce law.
The Alabama Legislature gave the legal community plenty to tell in 2017. The implementation of these laws began on January 1, 2018.
HB 257 is the latest addition to the Alabama Legislature and eliminates the concept of “forever livelihood.” According to this law, spouses are no longer entitled to maintenance payments that extend over their entire lifetime.
Instead, the court is empowered to use rehabilitative or periodic maintenance as the standard when determining the spouse’s maintenance. This was one of the most fundamental changes in divorce law in 2018.
Even if the court has the right to grant child support, there are certain applicable limits. The court may deviate from the standard in circumstances that are deemed “extraordinary”. According to the Alabama Legislature, rehabilitative upkeep should not be spread over a period of more than 5 years. In special circumstances, when the court deems a derogation necessary, the maintenance period should preferably be less than or equal to the duration of the marriage.
The concept of “unlimited maintenance” is appropriate for cases where the marriage period is 20 years or more. The changes in divorce law in 2018 and 2019 will have a significant impact on the topic of alimony.
Another bill that affects courts in Alabama is HB 208. This bill also began enactment on January 1, 2018. The main focus of this bill is to change the treatment of retirement benefits.
So far there has been no law requiring spouses to share the portion of the retirement savings, but this draft law provides otherwise. Previously, only couples who had been married for more than 10 years were entitled to a share of each other’s pension. However, this law removes the 10-year requirement for the distribution of retirement assets.
It is worth noting that this law, unlike other changes to divorce law, leaves room for negotiation. It is not a standard procedure to share retirement assets. Rather, it gives courts the opportunity to decide in favor of a joint use; this is also the case if the couple has been married for less than 10 years.
It is important for family lawyers to keep up with new laws and regulations. All of these changes in divorce law affect the rights of every spouse. In addition, these laws also change the financial situation of every spouse in many ways. The implementation of the TCJA in 2019 will have a significant impact on the support issue for all divorced couples. It is essential that each spouse carefully consider the impact of divorce on their future financial condition.