How Will Alimony Reform Affect My Florida Divorce?

Thu, Feb 25, 2016

Family Law

165350138_b5946fd441_oAlimony reform, alimony reform, alimony reform. How long have we heard about it? Is it ever going to happen? It seems like it is going to go through, then it dies before a bill passes and before it becomes law.

What is alimony reform? There are multiple components to recent efforts at alimony reform. Some efforts at alimony reform were so broad and encompassed so much, that it didn’t make sense to pursue. Some reform might be helping some and harming others too much. Additionally, there have been some retroactive components and some changes to child custody thrown in! This could be a recipe for disaster for many.

In the past, alimony had been considered something that women get from men, since men made more money or were the primary breadwinner in prior years. Then the wife “takes the husband to the cleaners” while he struggles to exist and eats pork and beans. Now, this can still happen. However, the days of it being so cliché or the norm are going away, because now women are often the primary breadwinner or at least earn a comparable amount of money. But that’s not to say that many people aren’t deserving of alimony because of the decisions that were made within the marriage. Maybe it was important that someone stay home with the kids, so someone quit their job. Alternatively, perhaps a serious health issue caused some changes to the income of the family. Overall, it is not always fair that these things go by the wayside during a divorce. So alimony still exists for a reason.

However, using alimony as a crutch indefinitely for the modern family is probably not going to fly. That is why there are different alimony ideas now. Alimony is usually not granted for short marriages. Alimony may only be granted for a short time in some situations. More often than not, there are serious restrictions on the duration and amount of alimony. One such restriction may be a clause that discontinues alimony if remarriage occurs.

Nevertheless, unfair and unpopular alimony agreements exist, and that’s why alimony reform comes up from time to time. Much of the talk is about really restricting it or making serious rules for when it applies. However, perhaps the scariest idea was when alimony reform could be used to invalidate prior arrangements. While some would rejoice, others would be devastated by this change and still not be prepared to exist without it. A 2013 alimony reform bill died when Governor Scott objected to retroactive  alimony changes, particularly involving retirement changes. However, many are in favor of a newer version that would make less drastic changes.

Coupled with the alimony reform is a presumption that there is a 50/50 time-sharing arrangement among parents. Many people disagree with this presumption, and currently, time-sharing is being considered separately from alimony. While 50/50 time-sharing often ends up being the case, it is not always best in some situations.

Alimony reform will probably eventually occur in Florida—but it’s anybody’s guess the exact direction it will take.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, family law, estate planning, real estate, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more.  SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.

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