Women may lose a long-running battle to maintain permanent alimony in Florida
Opponents describe the relationship of investors among political action committees to tip the bill in favor of wealthy men
James Cole, Democrat from Tallahassee
It took four attempts and nearly 10 years, but Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill to reform the state’s alimony laws and Elimination of permanent alimony.
DeSantis’ approval came a year later He has vetoed a similar billand after former governor Rick Scott vetoed similar bills twice.
Critics argued that the bill would impoverish older former spouses who were housewives and depended on alimony payments to live. Supporters of the bill say it adds clarity and prevents ex-spouses from continuing to work long after retirement because they had to keep paying alimony.
What is permanent alimony?
When the marriage ends, the court may order one of the former spouses to pay sums of money called alimony to the other ex-spouse. Originally the goal was only to provide for children, and when men were the main breadwinners, the goal was to help ex-wives support themselves after divorce. When no-fault divorce became common, alimony remained a right but became more conditional.
Florida laws previously recognized four types of alimony that a court might award:
- Expense bridging the gap: Payments made to help a supported ex-spouse become single and financially independent. A bridging alimony is designed to assist a party who has legitimate, identifiable short-term needs, and may not exceed two years.
- Qualifying alimony: Payments as part of a specific plan to help an ex-spouse learn, regain skills or credentials, or gain work experience needed to get a job.
- Alimony Duration: Payments made for a specified period of time after a “short or medium-term marriage” or after a long marriage, as determined by the court, if no permanent alimony is required.
- Permanent alimony: Payments made throughout the ex-spouse’s life, usually after a long, short or moderate marriage if exceptional circumstances exist.
What does Florida’s new alimony reform law do?
CS/SB 1416Dissolution of marriage removes permanent alimony as an option.
The bill also adds the possibility of a lump sum payment, adds the burden of proof to the person seeking support to prove they need it, and establishes a process for former spouses who make alimony payments to request adjustments when they retire or circumstances change. . It would allow judges to reduce or terminate alimony, support or alimony payments after considering a number of factors, such as:
- The “age and health” of the person making the payment
- The customary retirement age for that person’s occupation
- The “economic impact” that a reduction in alimony might have on recipients of payments
- Adultery of one of the spouses and its economic consequences
- “Motivation to retire and prospect of return to work” for the person making the push.
- The existence of a “supportive relationship” between the ex-spouse receiving the payments and an unrelated third party. The burden on an ex-spouse of making payments to prove a supportive relationship is removed.
The bill also removes tax consequences and sources of income such as “investments of no assets” from court consideration.
Does the new alimony law in Florida affect permanent alimony?
The new law redefines the duration of marriage: a short-term marriage is now considered one lasting less than 10 years (previously it was seven). Marriage is of medium duration, lasting from 10 to 20 years (previously 7-17). Long-term marriage, previously defined as a marriage of 17 years or more, is now 20 years or longer. Changes to permanent alimony include:
- People who have been married for less than three years are no longer eligible for permanent alimony in Florida.
- Alimony may not continue for a period longer than 50% of the duration of the short-term marriage, or 60% of the duration of the medium-term marriage, or 75% of the duration of the long-term marriage, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
- The amount and duration must be determined based on a number of factors, including the ex-spouse’s age and employability.
- The amount is what the court determines as a reasonable need or an amount not exceeding 35% of the difference between the net income of the spouses, whichever is less.
- The need to maintain the quality of life that was determined during marriage has been removed.
Does Florida’s New Alimony Law Affect Qualifying Support?
Yes. Rehabilitative alimony is now set at five years and can end if the ex-spouse completes the prescribed and defined plan early. It was already Florida law that qualifying support could be terminated early if the ex-spouse did not carry out the plan.
Does Florida’s New Alimony Law Affect Child Support?
The child support section has been left largely alone, but now if a divorced parent of a child who lives more than 50 miles away when the time-sharing order was announced moves within 50 miles of the other parent, it counts as a “significant and substantial change in circumstances for the purpose of modifying the time-sharing schedule,” so long as the court determines that the modification is in the best interest of the child.
When does the new alimony law in Florida go into effect?
As of July 1, 2023.
Does Florida’s New Alimony Law Affect Existing Alimony Payments?
When DeSantis vetoed the latter, it was one of his concerns.
In his veto letter, the governor wrote: “If CS/CS/SB 1796 becomes law and is given retroactive effect as the Legislature intends, it would unconstitutionally impair rights acquired under certain pre-existing marital settlement agreements.”
During the emotional testimony of ex-husbands who appeared before legislative committees to speak out against the bill, many said they had agreed to give up assets at the time of their divorce in return for permanent alimony and would now lose that guaranteed income when they needed it. more.
Senate bill sponsor Joe Grueters, R-Sarasota, told a Senate committee in April that the bill would not be retroactive to non-adjustable alimony plans.
“So, what you can do now, by case law, is we now codify all those laws and make it the rule of law. So we’re basically working to solidify that,” Grotter said. “So from a retroactive standpoint, no, because if Anything that was previously modifiable is still modifiable. If an agreement is not subject to modification, you can still modify that agreement.
But plans that could be modified before the change will now be subject to the new laws.
“He (DeSantis) has impoverished all the older women in Florida, and I know at least 3,000 women across the state of Florida are converting to Democrats and we will campaign against him, all the way, forever.” The Republican, who gets permanent alimony, told the Florida News Service on Friday.
The information was used from a report by Florida news service Dara Kim