Florida Legislature Update: Alimony Reform

Alimony reform has been a prominent topic in the Florida Legislature for the past few years.  In 2013, a bill was passed through the Florida House and Senate that would have virtually ended permanent alimony payments for spouses following a divorce.  However, that bill was vetoed on Governor Scott’s desk, a decision that shocked nearly everyone who supported the bill.  Governor Scott cited the retroactive nature of the bill for the basis of his veto, concerned that the language would greatly diminish or eliminate alimony payments for divorces that have already been finalized.

In 2015, the retroactive nature of the bill was eliminated, however it included a provision that would require equal child custody for both parents.  This language led to dissention in both the Florida House and Florida Senate and ultimately failure of the bill.

The 2016 version has no mention of child custody sharing and no provision for retroactive application.  The new HB 455, sponsored by Colleen Burton of Lakeland, would “effectively end(s) permanent alimony” by limiting judges’ discretion in awarding alimony after a divorce by providing a preset formula for how much an ex-spouse should get and for how long.

Critics have targeted the bill, citing that spouses who have stayed home throughout most of their “working” years should not be penalized.  These spouses, mostly women, feel that they have made sacrifices in their marriage that put them at a disadvantage in the workforce.

Supporters of the bill, mostly men argue that the standard of “forever” alimony isn’t fair.  Under the current law, discretion is almost completely up to the judge, which makes divorce settlements unpredictable.  The new reform would create a clearly defined set of parameters for divorcees and divorce attorneys to follow when drafting agreements.

On the issue of child custody, the previous provision of equal child custody has been introduced as its own bill, SB 250,

Divorce is a difficult and often terrifying event.  Child custody, assets, alimony and other factors all play a part in the complex procedures.  If you are looking for a divorce attorney who will aggressively fight for your rights and family, then call the Law Office of Massey & Duffy, PLLC at (352) 505-8900 to schedule a free consultation today.