For the first time since 2013, the Florida legislature is considering a bill that would change how the state awards alimony. A 2013 bill that was approved by the state legislature resulted in many people calling on the governor to cancel it. Ultimately, it was vetoed and never became law. A bill that is being considered in 2015 would end permanent alimony and add a presumption that child custody should be shared equally by parents.
Under Florida law, alimony is a type of payment that is given from one ex-spouse to another after a divorce. These payments are intended to prevent one of the spouses from losing the standard of living that he or she had become accustomed to during the marriage. Alimony is usually ordered to be paid to a spouse that did not have a job during the marriage or to the spouse that had the lowest income. Whatever the circumstances, it is very important to keep careful records of all alimony payments and documents.
When divorcing couples in Florida are unable to reach an agreement by themselves regarding pivotal matters such as alimony, the Circuit Court may intervene. Judges may determine the specifics of an order for spousal support on a case-by-case basis and typically do so after taking several factors into consideration.
Alimony is defined as a periodic or lump sum payment made from one party in a divorce to the other party. This alimony may be be granted by the court for one of several reasons including rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap, durational, permanent, or any combination of these reasons. Whether or not alimony is awarded is determined by the court's consideration of adultery or other circumstances such as the standard of living, marriage duration, age of parties, income and financial resources of each party, earning capacities, financial and non-financial contributions, and responsibilities to minor children in common.
Last year, Gov. Rick Scott's veto ended the legislative effort made by supporters of alimony reform in Florida. A new documentary film is putting the spotlight back on the issue, as reform supporters prepare for a new legislative push.
In May, we discussed Florida Gov. Rick Scott's veto of a bill that would have ended permanent alimony. It has now been reported that another version of the controversial legislation is expected to resurface next year.
Gov. Rick Scott recently made a line-item veto in the new state budget that cuts funding to the state’s Displaced Homemakers Program, according to a recent report in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Displaced Homemakers Program provides divorced, abused and widowed women access to various training and education opportunities.
Should a man be entitled to spousal support if his former spouse earned more than he did? While Florida law does not prevent men from seeking and receiving alimony, historically, most alimony awards across the nation have gone to women. However, the 1950s are long gone, and men are no longer necessarily primary earners who are married to women that do not work outside the home.
Governor Rick Scott made headlines across Florida earlier this month when he vetoed Senate Bill 718, which was principally designed to eliminate permanent alimony here in the Sunshine State.