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“Bread-Winning Women” Driving Alimony Reform in Florida

Many women in Florida who run their own businesses have joined the crusade for alimony (aka spousal support or maintenance) reform in the state. While several other states have already introduced limitations on alimony—particularly for marriages that lasted less than 20 years—others, like Florida, have not.

Is Alimony Fair?

Most alimony benefits are still paid by men to women and are assigned very rarely—in approximately 10 percent of divorce cases today. Regardless, this has still ignited a discussion about how fair these payments actually are. Some have pointed out, due to the existence of alimony, marriage is the only contract that involves liability and obligations even after it ends.

How Should We Adjust It?

Some states have addressed the issue by only allowing for alimony to be awarded in an effort to get a lower-earning spouse back on their feet and able to work (if they are able to). Still, in general, alimony generally gets negotiated in settlement in most-all cases without becoming an issue for the courts. Although there are some options to petition for modifications to existing payment schedules, in other instances, death is the only event that will terminate the obligation to pay the ex-spouse.

Reform Being Reintroduced In 2016 Florida Legislative Session

Although a similar bill died in the previous legislative session due to a dispute between two lawmakers, the effort to overhaul alimony in Florida is back this legislative session (starting in January), and would eliminate current formulas used to determine payment amounts based on earnings and length of marriage. Specifically, it would:

  • eliminate rehabilitative, durational, permanent, and bridge-the-gap alimony;
  • adjust the definitions of what a short-term, mid-term, and long-term marriage is (specifically eliminating the existence of mid-term marriages and extending what is considered to be a long-term marriage out from 17 years to 20 years);
  • base the duration of alimony payments on the number of years of marriage;
  • base the payment amounts on the couple’s gross income (higher earner’s salary minus salary of spouse seeking alimony); and
  • eliminate the ability for spouses married for less than two years to receive alimony (subject to exceptions made by the judge).

However, although some women have joined forces advocating for reform, others are still expressing objections, noting that permanent alimony can, in some instances, help “equalize the economic disparity” that is built in a long-term marriage and becomes an issue once it ends.

What’s missing?

While some have acknowledged that the state of Florida would benefit from additional guidelines being provided, others have pointed out that the current proposal still needs some major adjustments if it’s going to avoid massive injustice. In addition, they have called for the state to conduct an economic analysis on the impacts. Advocates for the bill have responded that the changes are meant to be less destructive for families in Florida, overall.

Contact Us about Spousal Support in Florida

If you are going through a divorce and need assistance with making arrangements for spousal support, we can provide you with the advice and counsel that you need. Contact the Fort Lauderdale attorneys at the office of Sandra Bonfiglio today to schedule a consultation. We are here to help.

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