A bill filed before the Florida Legislature on November 2nd would prohibit judges presiding over a divorce from considering adultery when awarding alimony, place limits on the total amount and length of time alimony may be awarded, and allow divorce agreements in which alimony was awarded to be reopened and renegotiated. House Bill 549 would also terminate all alimony payments once the spouse ordered to pay reaches the age of retirement.
House Bill 549 was filed by Brevard County legislator Ritch Workman. Representative Workman reportedly filed the bill only eight days after his own divorce was finalized in Florida. Although alimony was reportedly not awarded in Workman’s divorce, the Melbourne legislator has stated he believes current Florida alimony laws are inequitable.
Alimony is a tool used by Florida courts to maintain each party’s standard of living after a divorce. Alimony is not awarded in all circumstances, however, as an award of alimony is contingent upon the financial needs of one spouse and the others ability to pay. Additionally, the length of the marriage also plays a factor in an alimony award.
House Bill 549 is part of a growing trend to reform alimony laws both in Florida and across the nation. Workman’s bill was modeled after similar legislation passed recently in Massachusetts. If the bill passes in Florida, its effects would be far-reaching. Even routine divorce settlements could be reopened and reexamined. Since filing House Bill 549, Representative Workman has stated specific portions, such as a cap on awards, should be removed.
The bill closely follows on the heels of recent amendments to the permanent alimony provisions of Florida Statute 61.08 which took effect on July 1, 2011. Permanent alimony is normally awarded to a spouse who is no longer capable of meeting basic financial needs after a long term marriage of more than 17 years. Permanent alimony may also be awarded at the discretion of a judge after a moderate or short-term marriage is dissolved. Since July 1st, Florida courts must now determine no other alimony award is “fair and reasonable under the circumstances,” when permanent alimony is awarded. For moderate-term marriages of 7-17 years, clear and convincing evidence permanent alimony is the appropriate award is now required.
When you are facing the end of your marriage, you need an experienced attorney to assist you in navigating the legal process and protecting your rights. Our Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer can help. Attorney Sandy T. Fox focuses exclusively on marital and family law. He will discuss with you whether or not you have an entitlement and need for an award of alimony.
More Blog Posts:
Florida Legislature Seeks To Repeal Obsolete Cohabitation Statute, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, September 15, 2011
Senior Citizen Must Vacate Home During Divorce In Florida, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, September 6, 2011
In new alimony bill, wealthy, cheating men could pay less, by Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel