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Changes Coming to Alimony in Florida

Alimony is the payment that a family court judge may instruct an individual from a couple to pay to the other after a separation or a divorce. The idea is to ensure that both people experience economic effects from the divorce that are as similar as possible.

Florida considers five different types of alimony under law. Most are impermanent, including temporary alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, rehabilitative, and durational. The fifth type, permanent alimony, is awarded only when the recipient’s economic need is likely to be permanent and a judge believes that no other form of alimony would be fair and reasonable.  

However, it’s possible that this may change soon. Recent calls by legislators have been clamoring for alimony reform in Florida, and some of them are seeking to eliminate it entirely, or at least remove permanent alimony from the types of payments awarded by courts.

Alimony Proposals

The proposed new alimony bill lists guidelines for judges on how much alimony to award based on calculations of income between the two individuals separating. It also sets limits on the alimony payments to be commensurate with the payer’s income, allows for the renegotiation of payments if circumstances change, and sets regulations to encourage both parents having access to their children.

The bill is expected to pass both houses of legislature, and Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign it. Governor Scott did veto a similar bill back in 2013, however, the previous bill would have applied retroactively, which was Scott’s stated reason for refusing it. A retroactively applicable bill would upset the financial arrangements and expectations of thousands of divorced couples in Florida.

That said, there continues to be some opposition to the proposed drafting. The National Organization for Women brought divorced women before a state senate subcommittee to discuss how the bill’s vague wording regarding divorcee training or educational expenses can disadvantage individuals seeking to begin new careers after divorce. Other concerns about the bill cite the fact that lawmakers have not conducted any studies on how the proposed legislation may affect already divorced couples with alimony arrangements (though as the bill is no longer retroactive, concerns about affecting already divorced couples may not be realistic). And the stark gender divide of alimony payments (98% of those who pay alimony are men) promises to raise bias complaints down the line.

Even with those concerns noted, however, lawmakers are optimistic. The new bill is expected to be signed or vetoed within the next several weeks. If Governor Scott signs it into law, the changes to Florida’s alimony laws will take effect this coming October 1st.

For Further Information

Alimony in Florida continues to have a questionable future. However, as alimony law remains on the books, separating or divorcing couples may still need advice on meeting economic and legal needs. If you’re considering a divorce or separation, avoid difficulties and discuss your options by seeking reliable and experienced assistance. Contact an experienced Boca Raton family attorney at Schwartz | White at 561-391-9943 today for a consultation.

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