A movement to reform Florida’s alimony laws that began about ten years ago is reportedly beginning to gain momentum. Although the movement was initially primarily composed of divorced men, an increasing number of women are allegedly in favor of amending permanent alimony laws in the State of Florida. With divorce rates hovering near 50 percent, the increase in female support reportedly comes from second wives whose husbands are paying permanent alimony to their former spouse. Others are purportedly women who have refused to marry in order to keep their earnings from being used to recalculate a permanent alimony award.
According to Alan Frisher, Spokesperson and Co-Director for Florida Alimony Reform, although a number of changes were made to state alimony laws in recent years, they were not sufficient. Frisher, who has paid his former spouse permanent alimony for nearly ten years, stated most of the alimony laws currently in place in Florida were created in the 1950s. He believes they need to be reformed because societal shifts have fundamentally changed the economics of marriage. Frisher also said the goal of his organization is to educate legislators regarding the unfairness of current permanent alimony statutes.
Some feel that Florida’s current alimony laws discourage former spouses from becoming self-sufficient. It also reportedly creates lifetime financial ties between individuals who chose to end their marriage. When a Florida alimony payer remarries, a judge may increase his or her former spouse’s support award based on a perceived decrease in personal expenses. Florida Alimony Reform reportedly seeks an end to permanent alimony in favor of a fixed-term or long-term durational award system that would end once the payer reaches the age of retirement.
In most Florida divorce cases, some sort of alimony is awarded to the spouse who was the lower wage-earner. The idea behind a spousal support order is to provide a former spouse with additional income as he or she makes the transition to self-sufficiency. Most alimony awards are reportedly paid for a limited term based upon the length of a couple’s marriage. The concept of permanent alimony in the state was allegedly designed to protect a parent who stayed home with the children in lieu of working. Permanent and other alimony awards may be terminated if a payee remarries or cohabits in a marital-type relationship.
In Florida, a court may award spousal support where there is a need on the part of the alimony recipient and an ability to pay on the part of his or her former spouse. Normally, a needs assessment is conducted prior to any spousal support order. A needs assessment will examine the distribution of marital assets and the former couple’s standard of living before the marriage ended. In general, a Florida court will not award spousal support where the potential alimony recipient has the ability to maintain the same standard of living following the distribution of all marital assets. A competent family lawyer can explain the process in more detail.
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