What these law changes mean for you.

Dinh Nguyen, Family Lawyer Magazine Editor

In 2010 and 2011 there was much discussion as Florida witnessed changes to its alimony laws. Today the discussion continues over two bills that were recently introduced and is now pending before the Florida Legislature. Florida’s alimony laws are changing again.

Introduced by State Representative Ritch Workman (Melbourne) and State Senate Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (Miami), H.B. 549 (the House version) has already passed, and S.B. 748(the Senate version) is making progress. The bills seek to revise the duration of alimony payments in Florida and how it is calculated and rewarded:

Retirement

One major change to the laws is the recognition of retirement status. Currently, even if their income is significantly lower than it was pre-retirement, it is very difficult for a retired person to reduce alimony. The new laws will limit the maximum duration for alimony based on the length of the marriage. It will also cap alimony at 20 per cent of the payer’s income and terminate it upon full retirement age.

A Change of Terms

Permanent is no longer forever. Under the new law the term “Permanent Alimony” will be replace with “Long-Term Alimony.” While some argue that there are no major changes to the definition and the purpose of the term in accordance to alimony laws, others have speculated that this name change reflects the nature of new laws. That is to say that, because the new laws take the payer’s income situation into consideration, it is easier to eliminate or alter the terms of sentenced alimonies.

Relationships, Remarried, but not Re-alimony

Currently alimony payments are stopped if the payee remarries. It is also possible to reduce or terminate alimony if the payee enters into a co-habitation relationship. However, there have been instances where judges have ruled for the payments to resume once the former spouse is no longer in said relationship. Following the “Long-Term not Permanent” theme, the new laws will permanently terminate alimony if the former spouse receiving payments remarry or enter into co-habitation relationship.

Cheating is Not as Big of a Deal

Under the new laws adultery alone is not significant when determining alimony. Unless the affair resulted in a significant reduction to marital assets, adultery will not lower or increase the amounts paid in alimony. Currently in Florida, aside from alimony, the court does not factor in the act of adultery into their decision. It only cares that “the marriage can no longer continue.”

For more information, and to follow the bills’ progress visit the Florida senate website at The Florida Senate