The current state of alimony in Florida is in need of revisions. The laws no longer represent fair practices for the payer of alimony.
As a result, alimony payers will often find themselves trapped in very costly payments for the rest of their life, or other drastic situations. Therefore, two new bills have been proposed and are being pushed through the Florida government to revise out of date alimony laws.
Current Alimony Structure
Currently, in the state of Florida alimony is left to the sole discretion of the judge seeing the case. This means is that alimony has the potential to vary widely from case to case. Some variables include the duration of alimony payments, which in some cases is for life, tax treatments and consequences of alimony, the proportion of the person’s net income which alimony can be, cohabitation rules, and more. As a result, some men (and women) can pay alimony that is a major portion of their net income until the day they die, placing a significant financial and emotional strain on the person that may not always be proportional to the duration of the marriage.
In 2011 two bills were introduced into Florida legislature to revise alimony laws and practices. These are similar to an alimony reform bill recently passed in the state of Massachusetts to prevent abuse of the system. The actual bills are House Bill 549 and Senate Bill 748. Unfortunately, misconceptions about the Florida reforms are resulting in some backlash from groups such as NOW (the National Organization for Women) and headlines in the Orlando Sentinel such as “In new alimony bill, wealthy, cheating men could pay less.” In this article Scott Maxwell attacks the bill, saying that it is “radical,” “unconstitutional,” and “anti-woman.”
The bill, however, is not aimed to do any of the aforementioned things. The bill’s sponsor, Ritch Workman, says he is working alongside the group Florida Alimony Reform to make the state of alimony in Florida fair. The bill seeks to end long-term alimony which prevents payers from retiring at a normal age due to their steep lifetime alimony payments.
Some of the provisions within the bill which will aim do this include, but are not limited to:
- Allow existing alimony payers to modify their judgments through the new law.
- Cap the alimony payment at a certain percentage of the net income of the payer.
- Base the maximum duration of alimony around the length of the marriage.
- Prohibit the use of a payer’s current spouse’s income or assets in a modification.
- Termination of alimony upon full retirement age, barring extreme circumstances.
While some claim that the bills favor men, and it is true that traditionally more men pay alimony than women, the bill will be implemented equally across all alimony payers, men and women.
Other states such as West Virginia and California are considering revising their alimony laws, following suit of Florida and Massachusetts. Other resources for more information include Alimony Reform websites and websites of the Florida Government.
If you have questions about the reforms, how they can affect you, or anything else relating to alimony now or in the future Managing Attorney Jeffrey Feulner and the Men’s Divorce Law Firm are here to help. We aggressively represent husbands and fathers in family law cases, including alimony, and are poised to represent you. Contact our client relations manager today to schedule a consultation.