Earlier this month, state legislators filed bills to overhaul Florida's alimony laws. As reported in Florida Politics, members from both the state senate and state house of representatives are aiming "to toughen the standards by which alimony is granted and changed."
Among the lawmakers' top priorities is ending permanent alimony - and thus severely limit the amount of financial support many ex-spouses can receive after a divorce. Similar efforts have been made in the very recent past. They bred discord among politicians and citizens alike.
So why are lawmakers so quick to step back up to the plate?
How alimony would be limited
"I believe it's the right thing to do," said Representative Colleen Burton, a republican, who drafted the legislation. If passed intact, her bill would:
- Require the use of specific factors to calculate how much alimony can be received during divorce proceedings
- Set guidelines that link the duration of alimony to the duration of marriage
- Set guidelines regarding taxability and deductibility of alimony
- Set new guidelines regarding the modification and termination of alimony
- Set limits on combined alimony and child support payments
Why it may not pass
The state legislature did pass alimony reforms in 2016. But Governor Rick Scott vetoed the measures, just as he vetoed an attempt to modify alimony law in 2013.
Last year's bill included provisions for 50-50 child timesharing, of which Governor Scott disapproved. Mandating that a child spend equal time with each parent, he reasoned, could very well place a parent's interests above the child's own.
He has also been unwilling to sign bills that can retroactively change standing alimony agreements, noting that this could jeopardize many ex-spouses' financial stability. He has yet to indicate his feelings about the present bill.
How to protect yourself
New limits on alimony will affect thousands of men and women in the state. The most devastating effects will be felt by the spouses who depend on alimony for their livelihoods - men and women, in many cases, who devoted their lives to raising a family, and now find it difficult to enter the workforce.
Finding an attorney can be a crucial step toward protecting your rights and interests, and ensuring you continue to receive payments to meet your needs. Simply put, alimony laws may change, but your standard of living shouldn't have to.