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New Florida bills Propose Sweeping Changes to Alimony

On behalf of The Law Offices of Cindy D. Sackrin posted in Family Law on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

Previous posts here have noted how the Florida legislature is currently considering sweeping changes to the way alimony, or spousal support, is handled. The result could have a major effect on Florida family law.

After a concerted effort by activist groups, two bills were recently introduced to the legislature, House Bill 231 and Senate Bill 718. The bills, which are similar, would change the laws on alimony in a number of ways, but perhaps most significantly they would prohibit so-called permanent alimony.

Currently, Florida law allows courts a wide degree of discretion in awarding alimony payments. Judges can require one ex-spouse to pay the other alimony for an indefinite amount of time, where the judge feels it is appropriate. Critics of the current system argue that this practice is a holdover from previous generations, when men were almost always the sole breadwinners in marriages and women were less able to pursue careers of their own during or after the marriage. But today, women may be the ones making more money during a marriage, and there are women who are required to pay alimony indefinitely.

Critics of the new bills argue that the proposed changes would make the alimony system too rigid. They say that judges should be able to look at all the circumstances and decide what is appropriate when awarding alimony.

It's too early to say what will happen to Florida's alimony laws. But those Florida residents who pay or receive alimony and those now considering divorce will want to keep a close eye on the situation as it develops.

Source: Crestview News Bulletin, "Alimony bills propose relief from lifelong payments," Feb. 25, 2013

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