According to recent reports, Republican state legislators are working to abolish the “permanent” alimony system in Florida. A bill in both chambers (if passed) would put caps on the duration for payments; however, there is a Florida Bar section that is opposing these proposed changes.
Understanding the Purpose of the New Bill
House Republican, Alex Andrade, is pushing a bill that would prioritize the shorter-term “bridge the gap” alimony system rather than lifetime payments to a person’s ex-spouse. Florida is somewhat behind when it comes to alimony payments. In fact, this is one of only six states that still allows lifetime alimony. Also, the statutes allow for quite a bit of judicial discretion, which isn’t currently subject to any type of significant appellate review.
In the mid-part of January 2020, the bill passed its first stop. This means the House Civil Justice Subcommittee has approved the measure with a party-line vote. There are two main goals with this bill.
The Goals of the New Bill
The purpose of the bill is to incentivize relationships after a divorce in two different ways. This is by not counting the income of the obligor, which is the person paying alimony. This means the income of their new partner or spouse isn’t allowed to be imputed. It also includes a 180-day lookback if the oblige (the individual receiving alimony) has entered into a dependent relationship.
This proposal is also set to put a cap on the other forms of alimony awarded in the state of Florida. For example, rehabilitative alimony, which is designed to offer temporary support to ensure the receiving individual is able to achieve financial stability, would be capped at just five years. Also, durational alimony, which is the long-term type of alimony designed for ex-spouses who are considered financially dependent, would be capped at half of the length o the marriage.
Another essential element of this bill is to free the party paying alimony payments from having to continue these once they reach retirement age. This allows people, once the reach retirement to retire with dignity and be able to avoid a contempt order and face jail time if they fail to make the alimony payments.
While there are many who agree this bill has a lot of good points, there are many who are opposed to it. Even though the definition of permanent alimony is from statutory language, it has read that permanent alimony is still able to be awarded if it is agreed on by both parties. Those who are opposed believe that if the language regarding what permanent alimony is, is eliminated, it will create havoc down the road regarding what permanent alimony is agreed on. There’s also the fear that capping alimony payments ay result in people trying to get money from an ex-spouse in different ways.
Seeking Help with Your Family Law Case
There’s no question that the laws and regulations related to family law, divorce, child custody, and alimony payments are changing constantly. If you are in a situation and facing these issues, now is the time to call an attorney. Our legal team can help provide you with the legal services you need to help with your case. For more information, contact our legal team at Lewert Law, LLC by calling (561) 544-6861.