Alimony reform is again on the Governor’s desk in Florida. The bill made it out of the legislature and was sent to Governor Scott on Monday, April 4, 2016. The Governor has until April 19 to sign or veto the bill. This is the latest round in the attempt to change the alimony law in Florida.
Many are in support of the alimony law already in place in Florida. Those who receive alimony, such as those who have never had a career due to having to raise children or keep the home, believe the alimony law should not be changed. On the other hand, those who are paying alimony commonly feel they are being taken advantage of and should not have to financially support a former spouse for many years after the divorce. No matter what the other spouse may have done during their marriage, many alimony paying spouses feel that the alimony law forces them to pay too much money to the other party, and for too long.
The legislation that is being considered by the Governor, if it becomes law, will significantly change the way alimony is determine in Florida. These new changes include:
• Judges will have guidelines to calculate the amount of alimony payments
• The length of time alimony will be paid will also be based on guideline calculations
• There will no longer be ‘lifetime’ alimony payments
• There will be new circumstances that will be considered to modify or terminate alimony payments
• There will be no guidelines for marriages that lasted more than 20 years, and judges are encouraged to equalize the incomes of the parties
• The bill also will include the premise that the parents should have 50-50 custody or time-sharing with their children
The new alimony provisions, if passed, will apply to all initial alimony determination cases and all alimony modification cases pending on or after October 1, 2016. However, the new provisions regarding modification of an existing alimony obligation would apply to all cases. The new 50-50 time-sharing premise would apply only to initial divorce or time-sharing cases filed on or after October 1, 2016.
Even if the proposed bill does not become law, the alimony reform effort in Florida will continue in the future. Many officials within Florida are stating that this new bill simply gives judges guidelines to determine the amount of alimony and how long it will be paid, and is fair to both parties. These people feel that the judges have too much discretion and power, and the decisions are not consistent, and vary from one divorce to the next.
The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar has come out publicly against this bill, primarily because it includes the 50-50 time-sharing premise. The Governor can sign the bill into law or veto it (as he did to the prior alimony reform bill in 2013).
Here at Norman Law, we are ready to take on these new aspects of divorce and alimony, and work for you. If you need help with a divorce, alimony, child support or any other family law issue, contact us today to get started!