Florida Alimony Law Remains a hot Issue in Divorce

On behalf of The Law Offices of Cindy D. Sackrin posted in Divorce on Wednesday, December 19, 2012.

When couples in Florida prepare for divorce, one of the issues that may receive attention is spousal support. The general idea in divorce is to have both parties exit the marriage in a secure financial position; however, the current laws in Florida have long been cause for discourse.

As the state legislature is on the heels of the 2013 session, there has been some discussion of changing alimony laws in Florida. Current laws allow judges flexibility to order lifetime alimony for a spouse for life following a divorce.

Some argue that the current system is the product of a time when men were often the only income earner in a household. It is not uncommon for two incomes in the modern household, which has potential to adversely affect one party over the other. Currently, the only way to address the issue is for a paying spouse to return to court and ask the judge to modify an alimony arrangement if the spouse's financial circumstances change.

Suggested changes include creation of an alimony formula that takes into account the length of the marriage and the paying spouse's income. Other suggested changes include ending spousal support when the paying spouse retires, and that judges are encouraged to consider rehabilitative alimony over permanent payments.

Florida lawmakers have recently changed the state divorce laws, giving judges alternatives to permanent alimony. Florida continues, however, to allow permanent alimony when certain serious circumstances support it.

Courts in Florida have broad discretion to award alimony, especially in amount and duration. There are many factors that can commonly be considered when arriving at an award and for how much and how long. These factors include age, health, emotional well-being and finances of the two spouses, as well as the amount of time that would be required for rehabilitative education or training for the receiving spouse to support a comparable lifestyle.

The primary purpose of alimony is to prevent any unfair impact of a divorce on one party. However, recent discussions could lead to legislative movement. For that reason, interested observers will want to stay tuned into any updates as the legislature opens session.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Change permanent alimony," Nov. 25, 2012

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