Following Governor Rick Scott’s veto of a comprehensive alimony reform bill in the spring of 2013, legislators and lobbyists are poised to press the reform anew in Florida’s 2014 legislative session. The vetoed legislation included provisions to end permanent alimony, limit awards in accordance with the spouse’s income and the duration of the marriage, as well as let an ex-spouse petition to lower or end payments upon retirement. Scott vetoed the bill due to its provision that allowed a paying spouse to reopen a settled alimony judgment and seek retroactive changes to the award.
Current alimony provisions under Florida law
Florida law allows a court to grant alimony to either spouse in several different forms, including “bridge-the gap” or permanent alimony, among others. The divorce court will typically evaluate whether a party has an actual need for the alimony as well as any of these and other factors:
- Length of the marriage
- Standard of living of the couple
- Age, physical and emotional condition of both spouses
- Financial resources of each spouse, including assets and liabilities accrued
- Each spouse’s earning capacity, educational and vocational skill level
- Contribution to the marriage in homemaking, childcare, etc.
Expected reforms in the 2014 legislative proposals
In an effort to reform Florida’s divorce and alimony laws, advocates for reform and Florida divorce lawyers are trying to reach a compromise that may include the following reforms:
- Elimination of permanent alimony in future divorce cases
- Potential to reduce payments due to retirement, loss of a job, or pay cut
- Relationship between length of marriage to duration of alimony payments
Florida divorce advocates, divorced couples and those contemplating divorce are actively following these legislative developments. A seasoned Florida spousal support lawyer can help you determine how you may be impacted if the proposed alimony reforms are enacted.