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Florida legislature may end permanent alimony

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2022 | Family Law |

Some ex-spouses who are paying alimony have criticized it as a form of welfare. Meanwhile recipients may need this support to maintain their lifestyle or to pay for training or education. This debate has been going on for a long time, but it gained momentum after a Florida House Committee recently approved a bill that would end lifelong alimony.

HB 1395

This measure, HB 1395, was approved by a 15-6 vote in the House Judiciary Committee. It would end permanent alimony in a future divorce.  If passed, it would take effect in July.

The measure, if enacted, would also repeal any permanent alimony that a court previously ordered. Bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and durational alimony would still be permitted. Couples would also keep the ability to agree to permanent alimony as part of a marital settlement.

Under existing law, a judge has the discretion to modify alimony. The Florida state Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that retirement may be a change in circumstances that can justify a modification to alimony.

Attorney groups and alimony recipients criticized this bill. Ending permanent alimony would leave recipients caring for their children in uncertain situations and would only help the spouse who earned income, according to opponents. They also claim that this would disadvantage spouses who gave up their careers or education to take care of their children.

Equal time sharing

This measure also contains a provision that parents sharing equal time with their children would be in the children’s best interest. The best interest of the child standard has long been the legal standard governing child custody rulings.

This 50/50 standard has been criticized. Timesharing disputes should be decided on their unique circumstances, according to the chairperson of the family law section of the Florida Bar. She said that each parent’s ability to provide for their child differs greatly and should be considered when timesharing agreements are made.

Attorneys can assist spouses with seeking a fair and reasonable support order in a divorce. They can also protect their rights and custody and visitation matters.

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