An End to Permanent Alimony in Florida
Politicians in the state of Florida have proposed a bill that would eliminate lifetime alimony. The bill was introduced by Colleen Burton, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives. Currently in Florida, if permanent alimony is awarded following a divorce the payments possibly continue until death or remarriage.
The new bill brought forth in the House stipulates guidelines that judges will follow to help determine how much money a divorcing partner receives. Factors including length of marriage and spousal income will be included when making such decisions. Another aspect of the bill includes ceasing alimony payments once the paying partner retires, and making sure that alimony payments do not increase even if the paying partner receives a salary increase after the divorce. The bill will also address second wives and husbands.
The duration for alimony payments depends on the number of years of marriage, with the amount based on the divorcing couple’s gross income. The spouse that is seeking alimony has their salary deducted from the higher earner’s salary to arrive at this payment amount.
As an example of how the formula would apply to short-term marriages, or those less than 20 years, payments in a 10-year marriage in which the combined earnings of the couple are $100,000 would be $1,041.67 per month. As an example of how the formula would work for marriages of 20 years or longer, payments in a 20-year marriage in which the gross income was $100,000 would come to $3,333.33 per month. An alimony recipient who has been married for less than 20 years would be eligible to receive payments for .25 times the number of years of marriage. For example, a spouse who had been married for 10 years would be able to receive alimony for 2.5 years. Alimony recipients who had been married for 20 years or longer would be eligible for .75 times the number of years of the marriage, meaning someone divorcing after 20 years would be eligible to receive alimony for 15 years.
Similar legislation was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott in 2013. The 2013 bill had language that would allow the laws to be applied retroactively to divorces that were already finalized.
On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the House Civil Justice Committee gave a first nod to the measure in a party line vote. HB 943 has one more committee stop before heading to the House of Representatives for a full vote.
UPDATE (as of February 8, 2016)
The alimony reform bill passed its second committee in the Florida House, and will be brought to the House Floor for a vote. Under the alimony reform bill, spousal support will be based on the incomes of both parties, and payments will last approximately 25%-75% of the marriage’s length. Various factors, such as income changes, retirement, and relationship status will also allow for modifications to the amount of alimony paid out as time passes. The alimony reform bill will also give judges the freedom to deviate from previous alimony guidelines. The Family Law Section of The Florida Bar has backed the alimony reform bill.