Florida Lawmakers Debate Alimony Reform
Laws change all the time. Whether as the result of a new ruling from a higher court, or a new bill, the law is always evolving. Florida lawmakers are, for instance, once again considering a law that, if passed, would ban permanent alimony in the state. This change could have significant repercussions for divorcing couples, who should strongly consider finding an experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney who can not only provide thoughtful advice on this issue, but who is knowledgeable about recent changes to the law.
Florida is one of only a few states in the country where courts are still allowed to award permanent alimony. Unlike other forms of alimony, like durational or temporary alimony, permanent spousal maintenance does not expire after a certain amount of time. Instead, those who are awarded this form of maintenance can continue to collect payments until remarriage or the death of the payor. Because these kinds of awards have such significant financial consequences, courts are generally wary of issuing them, except in cases where a couple was married for many years, with one spouse acting as the primary earner.
Known as House Bill 1559, the new alimony reform law would abolish permanent alimony as an option in Florida divorce cases. While bridge-the-gap, durational, and rehabilitative alimony would still be allowed, the duration for which they could be ordered would also be limited to one-half the length of the marriage. If, for instance, a couple divorced after a marriage of 20 years, neither party could be awarded alimony on a permanent basis. Instead, the lesser earning, or dependent spouse, could collect alimony for up to ten years. The fate of this bill remains to be seen, as it was passed by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, but is now in committee before the Senate.
Other Important Repercussions
Besides affecting alimony awards, HB 1559 also proposes major changes to time-sharing laws in the state. Basically, if passed, this law would create a presumption that both of a child’s parents would be entitled to 50 percent (equal) time-sharing in any custody arrangement. This essentially means that judges, before looking at any evidence or listening to the parties’ arguments in a custody case, will automatically presume that an equal time-sharing arrangement is in a child’s best interests. Parents who believe that such an arrangement would not be bets for their family would then have to rebut that presumption in court. This would obviously have a significant effect on not only custody matters, but also child support.
Do You Need Help with an Alimony-Related Legal Matter?
If you are concerned about the potential changes to alimony and custody laws in Florida, or have other questions about spousal maintenance, don’t hesitate to reach out to dedicated Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. for help. You can set up a free consultation with a member of our legal team by calling our office at 954-945-7591 today.