The controversy over Florida’s alimony laws has added another chapter, with legislators in both the state House and Senate once again introducing bills to essentially do away with so-called “permanent alimony” in the Sunshine State. If the Legislature passes this bill, it would be for the fourth time, with the governor vetoing the three previous versions.
At issue are alimony orders with no precise end date. Judges most often order indefinite alimony for divorcing individuals who were married for a long time and did not earn an income during the marriage. Such individuals often struggle to support themselves once their marriage ends because they lack a work history, their job skills can be years or decades out of date, and they may struggle with illness or disability. On the other hand, spouses ordered to pay permanent alimony often feel they must put off retirement to afford the payments.
Making it easier to change indefinite alimony
The bills aims to make it easier for a paying ex to get an alimony order amended or terminated. Judges would be allowed to end or reduce alimony payments based on several factors, including the paying ex’s health and age, and at what age people in their profession typically retire. Another consideration would be the “economic impact” the proposed change would have on the recipient.
Besides the controversy over whether to end permanent alimony itself, a major reason past bills have not become law has to do with such alimony orders that already exist. In the past, a group called the “First Wives Advocacy Group” has successfully lobbied lawmakers not to make the modification changes retroactive — in other words, to exempt existing indefinite alimony orders from the bills.
Divorce law is not set in stone
It remains to be seen if the alimony reform effort will succeed this year. Though Florida’s divorce laws don’t necessarily change every year, when changes happen, they could dramatically affect your property and parental rights in your divorce.