Florida Alimony Changes: Update

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Alimony on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

Today is ANOTHER big day for Florida alimony changes. Last week I posted about the Florida Senate passing Senate bill (SB 718), which fundamentally changes alimony in Florida.

Yesterday the House adopted the Senate version of the bill, SB 718. Today, the Florida House bill, HB 231, is scheduled for its third reading and possible House floor vote. It is on today’s Special Session, April 18, 2013 at 10:30. You can watch all the legislative action here.

Coincidentally, the Wall Street Journal has a timely article about the big changes to Florida’s alimony laws, and looks at how other states, like Massachusetts and Michigan, are changing their laws too. Floridians should take note that this is not a movement unique to our state, but reflects societal changes across the country.

Florida is one of a growing number of states where proponents of alimony-law changes are making an aggressive push. A similar measure took effect in Massachusetts last year, and comparable bills are pending in New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado and Oregon.

The proposals have triggered contentious debate, pitting payers who decry what they call unjust awards against family-law attorneys who say the measures are punitive to women.

Supporters say alimony laws in many states tether former spouses indefinitely and are outdated at a time when women make up 47% of the labor force. They also complain that judges have too much leeway to fashion awards, yielding wildly disparate judgments.

  • Briefly, the House bill (HB 231) does the following:
  • Revises factors to be considered in alimony awards;
  • Automatically terminates alimony in certain circumstances;
  • Requires the imputation of income in some cases;
  • May allow an offset of or other consideration of alimony in determining equitable distribution or child support;
  • Creates a presumption in favor of equal time-sharing by parents;
  • Allows for attorney fees if obligee unnecessarily seeks modification or termination;
  • Makes retirement age a reason to modify alimony.