Florida’s divorce laws could be in for some major changes if legislators get their way. The bills, if passed, would primarily focus on the areas of alimony, child support and timesharing.
A series of bills sponsored by Rep. Collen Burton (R) in the House and Senators Tom Lee (R) and Kelli Stargel (R) in the Senate are currently working their way through the Florida legislature.
The largest change proposed in the legislation is a complete modification of the state’s alimony rules. Permanent alimony, which is a form of spousal support that lasts indefinitely, would be eliminated. Formulas would be implemented to set appropriate ranges for alimony awards. These formulas would incorporate factors such as the length of the marriage.
Currently, there are no standard formulas for Florida judges to follow, meaning that a divorcing couple could get drastically different results depending on their judge. The new laws, if enacted, would disfavor alimony for marriages lasting less than two years and encourage extended periods of alimony for marriages lasting more than 20 years.
The bills would also make it easier to modify alimony arrangements in situations where one of the spouses retires. This hotly debated provision would allow those responsible for paying alimony to retire and be free of their obligations to a previous spouse. At the same time, it could lead to a person with few employment prospects facing a sudden reduction in the income that they rely on to survive.
Similarly, the laws would allow for support modifications when the receiving previous spouse enters a new relationship with economic benefits similar to a marriage. Currently, it is possible for someone receiving alimony to enter a new relationship where their significant other supports them financially yet they continue to receive alimony. Because alimony is supposed to be based on need, many see this as unfair.
Whether you are contemplating divorce or are seeking to modify an existing support agreement, contact the Tampa-area family law attorneys at the Law Offices of K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. to learn about your rights. We keep our clients informed on the latest updates in Florida divorce law.