No Alimony Reform in 2017
Over the past four years, Governor Rick Scott has twice vetoed attempts to reform alimony in Florida.
In 2013, Scott first vetoed a rewrite of Florida’s alimony law, because the language used would allow the law to be applied retroactively to divorces that were already finalized.
Last year’s legislation looked to create a formula for determining alimony based on the length of marriage and the combined income of both spouses. The proposal would have eliminated permanent alimony in the state. However, the legislation was amended to include a provision creating a presumption of equal timesharing in child custody disputes, which ultimately led to Scott’s veto.
This year it appeared that the Family Law section and alimony reform advocates had reached a consensus regarding new legislation. This year’s bill would not include any provisions regarding retroactivity or child sharing. The highlights of 2017’s legislation included:
1) Presumption of alimony in marriages lasting longer than 2 years.
2) Listing of 14 factors to aid courts in the determination of the range and duration of alimony.
3) Alimony modifications based on retirement.
4) Clarification that a “substantial supportive relationship” for an alimony recipient does not require cohabitation.
Many lawmakers believed the newest alimony reform could pass without being vetoed by Scott, since the bill left alone two issues the Governor had previously spoken out against (retroactivity and presumption of equal timesharing). However, the newest alimony proposal will not be brought to the floor during this year’s legislative session. Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Chairman Rene Garcia has said he will not schedule the bill for a hearing, stating “We have more pressing issues that we’re dealing with as it relates to the safety and welfare of children than to tie up the committee with the alimony bill at this time.”