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2018 Changes in Divorce Law that Significantly Impact 2019

2018 has been an eventful year for couples seeking a divorce. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is all set to transform the way everyone views alimony in 2019. Due to this imminent massive change, many couples decided to call it quits and finalize their divorce agreement in 2018. However, it would be incorrect to believe that 2018 did not bring forward any changes in divorce law.

The Alabama Legislature gave the legal community a lot to talk about in 2017. The implementation of these laws started from January 1st, 2018.

HB 257 is the latest addition to the Alabama legislature and eradicates the concept of “forever alimony”. Under this law, spouses are no longer eligible for alimony that takes the form of payments that extend over a lifetime.

Instead, the court has the authority to make rehabilitative or periodic alimony the standard when determining spousal support. This has been one of the most fundamental changes in divorce law in 2018.

Even though the court has the right to reward alimony, there are certain applicable limits. The court can deviate from the standard under circumstances deemed “extraordinary”. According to the Alabama Legislature, the rehabilitative alimony should not be spread over a period of more than 5 years. In special circumstances, where the court finds it necessary to deviate, the period of alimony, preferably should be less than or equal to the duration of the marriage.

The concept of “limitless alimony” is appropriate for cases where the duration of marriage is 20 years or more. Thus, changes in divorce law in 2018 and 2019 are affecting the subject of alimony significantly.

Another bill concerning Alabama courts is HB 208. The enactment of this law started from January 1st, 2018 as well. The major focus of this bill is to bring about a change in the treatment of retirement benefits.

Previously, there was no law requiring spouses to divide the share of retirement savings, but this bill states differently. Earlier, only couples that were married for more than 10 years would be eligible to get a share of each other’s retirement savings. But this law eliminates the 10-year requirement when it comes to the sharing of retirement savings.

It is worth noting that unlike other changes in divorce law, this law leaves room for negotiation. It does not make it a standard procedure to share retirement savings. Rather, it gives courts the option to decide in favor of sharing; this is the case even when the couple has been married for less than 10 years.

Summary

Keeping up with the new laws and regulations is important for family law attorneys. All these changes in divorce law affect the rights of each spouse. Furthermore, these laws also alter the financial situation of each spouse in many ways. The implementation of TCJA in 2019, will significantly impact the matter of alimony for all divorcing couples. It is fundamental that each spouse carefully considers the impact of divorce on his/her future financial position.

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About this Author

Jaliz Maldonado, Practice Panther Miami Legal Marketing and Law Office Management author

Jaliz Maldonado is an eight-year Army Veteran and is currently in graduate school at the University of Miami where she is studying for her MBA. When she's not working at PracticePanther as the Operations Manager or studying, she's hanging out with her English Bulldog named Dumbell, painting, or reading. Jaliz is also strong with the force and belongs to House Slytherin. Make sure to connect with her via Linkedin and follow her on twitter @JalizMaldonado.

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