A bill that seeks to end permanent alimony in Florida was recently filed by Rep. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland) for the House version and Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) sponsored the Senate’s version. Both versions of the bill seek to allow retirees to lower their alimony payments as well as establish a formula for the court to use when making support awards.
If the bill is passed, the court will be required to consider how long the couple was married and the earning difference between the spouses. For example, a marriage that lasts 20 years or less will result in an award of alimony that is a lower amount and for a shorter period of time.
Additionally, an individual paying alimony would be allowed to petition the court to reduce or terminate payments once he or she reached retirement age. Once a person qualifies for Social Security, it is “a substantial change in circumstance.”
Other changes that would occur if the bill passes include:
- The court must consider if either spouse could be earning more money, which could impact the amount of alimony awarded.
- An individual paying alimony would not have to pay more than 55% of their net income for alimony and child support payments.
- If an individual remarries, the assets and income of the new spouse could not be used as a basis for increasing the amount of alimony.
- If the person paying alimony receives an increase in salary, it does not automatically mean alimony payments should be increased.
- If the couple was married less than two years, alimony would not be awarded unless extreme extenuating circumstances are shown.
Additionally, the Senate bill provides that both spouses should share custody of the children unless the court makes a written ruling that it is not in the best interests of the children.
It is important to note that this new alimony bill is not retroactive. This could be an important factor since Governor Rick Scott vetoed a 2013 alimony reform bill because he was concerned with how it would impact people who were already receiving alimony and depended on the payments.
We will continue to monitor the progression of the alimony reform bill, so be sure to check back for updates.
If you are facing divorce or you have other family law needs, our legal team is here to help. Contact the Men’s Divorce Law Firm to schedule a consultation with a caring professional, and aggressive advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child timesharing (custody), and paternity matters.