There are legislative changes afoot in Florida that are aimed dramatically changing the state’s Permanent Alimony system. It is the latest battle in a war against permanent alimony that has been waged for over 20 years. HB 843, introduced by House Republicans Anthony Sabatini, Robert Andrade and Spencer Roach in December 2019, is the most recent legislative attempt to reform what some call Florida’s severely disproportionate Permanent Alimony system that
enables some ex-spouses to enjoy an excellent quality of life while the other spouse often has to struggle to survive.
Five Types Of Alimony
Couples seeking a divorce in Florida should contact Jacksonville Attorney J.A. Smith because they can currently be subject to several different types of alimony awards depending on each spouse’s circumstances. Florida’s alimony laws include:
- Temporary Alimony
- Permanent Alimony
- Durational Alimony
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony
- Rehabilitative Alimony
Lawyers for both parties argue what type of alimony to which spouses are entitled. After looking at factors like whether or not one spouse will be caring for the couple’s children, if one spouse sacrificed their career to help the family to be successful and the resources each marital partner has at their disposal, the court decides which, if any, type of alimony to which marital partners are entitled.
Several Proposed Amendments
Several different amendments to Florida’s Permanent Alimony law have been proposed. Many of them would dramatically change the type of latitude judges would have in the future when it comes to ruling on alimony cases. In addition to HB 843, Florida’s Republican Senator Kelli Stargel has introduced SB 1832, her version of the appropriate alimony reform bill. These two bills, along with dozens of others that have been introduced over the past few decades, are all designed to make the awarding of alimony less contentious than it has been in thousands of cases in the recent past.
The proposed changes to the current Florida Permanent Alimony laws has received staunch criticism from both the National Organization for Women, government officials and the Florida Bar Association. At issue in many cases is concerns about the quality of life to which children of divorced parents and women who forsook seeking higher education and gainful employment during the marriage, are entitled. Many opponents of the Permanent Alimony reform bills argue spouses who sacrificed their education and careers for the sake of the marriage and their spouse’s career are entitled to permanent alimony.
Changes Florida’s HB 843 Proposes
A major target of Florida’s HB 843 alimony reform legislation is “standard of living” considerations at the dissolution of a marriage and one spouse’s right to permanent alimony. The bill acknowledges the divorced partner who is raising the couple’s children is entitled to spousal support. However, it argues that spouse is only entitled to support for a finite period of time, not for the rest of their life or until they remarry. HB 843 proposes a cap be placed on the length of time a divorced spouse can receive alimony payments at 50% of the marriage’s length.
Florida’s Current Alimony Laws
According to the statutes in Florida’s current divorce law, alimony is lump sum or periodic payments to a divorced party in a divorce to help alleviate what would be an unfair economic burden a lower-earning spouse would have to endure during as well as after a divorce. The determination of if a party should receive alimony is based on facts proving either party actually needs alimony and the other party’s ability to pay alimony. HB 843 proposes the permanent alimony option be removed from Florida law and replaced with a durational, rehabilitative or bridge-the-gaps form of alimony grant or some combination of the three. HB 843 recommends bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative alimony be prioritized.
Other Changes HB 843 Proposes
In addition to the duration of alimony not to exceed 50% of the marriage’s length, HB 843 also proposes several other changes to Florida’s alimony laws. Should HB 843 become law, it would cap rehabilitative alimony at no longer than 5 years. It would also allow the spouse that is paying alimony to stop making those payments once they reach retirement age or their income is drastically reduced. It would also transform Florida into a state where presumptive 50/50 child time-sharing is the norm. Opponents worry about the lifelong impact the court decision to modify Florida’s alimony laws will have on children and lower-earning spouses.
Associated Major Changes
The major changes in Florida’s alimony laws HB 843 would put in place begins with the elimination of permanent alimony. It would prevent the person obligated to pay alimony from having their retirement funds be subject to garnishment. Durational alimony would be capped at 25% of the combined net income of both parties and %300,000 will be cap on the total net income to be considered. The person paying alimony will not have to get a life insurance policy that names their former spouse as beneficiary. The person receiving alimony can purchase a policy on the payer should they so desire.
A Request For Modification
Section two of HB 843 would grant the person who is paying alimony to request a modification should they discover the former spouse to whom they are paying alimony is in a supportive relationship. The ex-spouse who is receiving alimony payments would no longer be able to request their alimony payments be increased because the alimony payer’s new spouse has significant income or assets. Although long considered to be a no-fault state when filing for divorce, Florida’s infidelity clause currently allows judges to consider adultery when calculating the size of the alimony award. HB 843 would eliminate the infidelity clause.
An Archaic Concept
Many people in favor of reforming Florida’s alimony laws see the infidelity laws as an archaic concept. They argue that at its core it is simply punitive in nature. Reformers argue removing the adultery clause from playing a role in the calculation that determines the amount of alimony that is awarded will allow the focus of the process of awarding alimony to be where it belongs. Providing the lowing-earning former spouse with the support they need to help them have enough income to put them in a productive financial situation and enable them to enjoy a good quality of life.
Eliminating “Standard Of Living” Considerations
Another of the changes proposed by HB 843 is that courts no longer consider what it takes to maintain the “standard of living” the spouse receiving alimony had during the marriage when calculating the amount of alimony awarded. HB 843 proposes that the only factors that should be considered when calculating alimony should be the length of the marriage, the earnings and assets the couple acquired during the marriage, the parties’ age and emotional condition, as well as basic statutory standards. This is based on the understanding both parties will endure a decrease in post-divorce standard of living.
Presumption Of Shared Parenting
In the past the court decided which parent would be the better primary caregiver. HB 843 presumes there will be subject to 50/50 shared parenting of all minor children. The only time this will not take place is if there’s evidence one of the parents poses a risk to the safety of the child or children. There must be proof that one of the parents has a first-degree misdemeanor or higher conviction that includes there was domestic violence involved. However, the child support obligation will remain the same with regards to shared parenting. This is to ensure the children will not be unnecessarily alienated from either parent.
Florida Alimony Reform Champions
Florida Senator Kelli Stargel, a knowledgeable, highly respected, Florida alimony reform champion, working in coordination with the sponsors and proponents of HB 843 including hardworking House Republicans Anthony Sabatini, Robert Andrade and Spencer Roach, have created bipartisan support for Florida alimony reform.
Chris Mcdonald has been the lead news writer at CompleteConnection. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. Chris is also an author of tech blog Area19delegate. He’s also accepting technology write for us on his site.