Wail Sarieh
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The New Florida Alimony Statute Causes a Big Stir

Alimony

 

Florida lawmakers are working to change how alimony is paid and received in the state. This controversial alimony reform bill has a lot of people talking. Essentially, it will remove lifelong alimony payments and use a strict formula for determining how long and how much alimony is due to the receiving spouse.

Why the Bill Was Introduced

Originally introduced by state Rep. Colleen Burton, the Florida House Bill 943 will reform alimony. Lawmakers are hoping to make alimony fair, no longer something couples use for retaliation. Advocates for this bill have been working for years to change alimony, stating that recipients of permanent alimony are able to essentially extort funds from their ex-spouses, never needing to become employed or take on financial responsibility of their own.

Some opponents of the new bill state that it would make it impossible for mothers to leave their careers and care for their children if lifelong alimony was removed. It may even discourage mothers from ever staying at home, even in a solid marriage, out of fear of being left financially unstable if the marriage fails in the future.

One thing that is clear about this new law is that Florida lawmakers are not erasing alimony altogether. Instead, the formulation would set alimony duration between 25 and 75 percent based on the length of the marriage. This gives more consistency and predictability to alimony payouts, although, just as with child support, judges will have some discretion.

There are a number of other changes lawmakers are hoping to achieve with this bill, including:

  • A greater chance of voluntary prenuptial agreements.
  • Lowering or ending payments altogether once the paying spouse enters retirement.
  • Not awarding alimony in marriages lasting less than two years.
  • Preventing a combination of alimony and child support from taking more than 55 percent of the paying spouse’s income.
  • Allowing alimony payers to renegotiate payment amounts if the recipient has an increase in income or if the payer becomes unemployed.
  • Creating stricter rules for receiving spouses if they cohabitate with another individual after the divorce.

Also, there is a pivotal change that will be seen in this new law. Instead of using the terms “husband” and “wife,” lawmakers have changed the terms to make them gender-neutral – that way, the bill applies to same-sex marriages as well. Therefore, the married parties are simply referred to as spouses.

Because the bill has not officially passed, these changes will not be seen for divorces currently underway in the state. However, the changes are likely to come as more lawmakers have come to agree.

Other States May Join

With Florida paving the way for new alimony laws, other states (like California), may also start reforming alimony payments. While there is nothing currently underway, these changes are likely to spread countrywide within the next couple of years.

Do You Have Questions About Alimony? Contact Sarieh Law Offices

If you are going through a divorce and have questions about receiving or paying alimony, contact the family law attorneys at Sarieh Law Offices today. We offer free 30 minute consultations, so please call us at (714) 542-6200 or fill out an online contact form.

Wail Sarieh
By Wail Sarieh