Lawmakers Renew Fight Over Florida Alimony Reform
Over time, most U.S. states have reformed their policies on alimony (also called spousal support in some jurisdictions), eliminating measures such as lifetime alimony. Florida, in many ways, remains an exception, though state lawmakers have tried in recent years to remedy that. If you are in a position where you pay or receive Florida alimony, it can be a significant advantage to be aware of the ways in which it may be modified in the near future.
History of Reform Attempts
The most recent skirmish was in 2016, when Governor Scott vetoed a reform bill that would have established 50/50 parenting time as being in the best interests of the child. Scott’s objections were primarily to do with the child custody part of the bill, rather than the parts discussing alimony itself, but the outcome was nonetheless the same. The bill would have made significant changes to Florida’s family law landscape, including all but eliminating permanent alimony, as well as simplifying the system for making adjustments or custody changes.
Even before the 2015-16 bill, however, activists in the state have attempted to seek changes. Gov. Scott vetoed a similar bill in 2013, which would have had analogous provisions, but also have made the law apply retroactively, back to a certain date. Scott and his supporting lawmakers argued that to make such a law retroactive would be to place an undue burden on the courts as countless people would immediately seek modifications to their divorce decrees.
The Potential Future
Sources state that the Florida bar will again take up the cause of alimony reform, this time focusing more narrowly on alimony, rather than attempting to merge questions of alimony, parenting time and the like into one bill. If the alliance is successful this time, it will make fundamental changes to the nature of spousal support in Florida. Most notably, it will permanently eliminate lifetime alimony in all but a few isolated cases, which has been on the proverbial table for years.
Most experts agree that the focus as a whole will likely be on alimony, but more specifically, on the discretion granted to individual family court judges. It is possible in this day and age to receive radically different awards in different counties in the state. This can cause multiple problems, including forum shopping and clogged dockets, because people will attempt to have their case heard in a district that will be favorable to them. A new reform bill would attempt to impose uniformity on the state’s family courts, ensuring a fair ruling wherever one might be located.
A Family Lawyer Can Help You
No one knows for certain what the upcoming year will hold, but all the signs point toward a new alimony reform bill being mounted, which will cause benefit to many, but confusion to some. If you need assistance understanding what might happen to your alimony payments, contacting a knowledgeable attorney can help. The skilled Hollywood alimony attorneys at the firm of Steven A. Mason, P.A. are ready, willing, and able to assist you in determining what to do in the future to the best of our ability. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.