If it seems like Florida lawmakers’ attempts to end the option of permanent alimony are old news, that’s because they’ve been trying to do it for years – without success. Two different governors have vetoed these bills.
Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill that would have ended permanent alimony because it was retroactive. Supporters argue that the latest incarnation of the bill, which currently awaits the governor’s decision, is not retroactive — at least for non-modifiable support agreements.
Further, judges may not be completely prohibited from changing an agreement if they believe circumstances warrant it. The legislation would also let judges reduce or terminate alimony if the payor reaches the Social Security Administration’s “normal retirement age,” which is the age when a person is eligible for their full retirement benefits. This varies depending on when you were born.
Durational alimony would replace permanent alimony
The legislation would end permanent alimony and add “durational” alimony as an option for judges if a marriage has lasted for at least three years. The length that durational alimony would need to be paid would depend on a number of factors, including the length of the marriage. The amount “may not exceed the lesser of the obligee’s reasonable need or 35 percent of the difference between the parties’ net incomes.”
Bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative alimony would remain options for judges to order. Both are for limited periods and are designed to help the lesser-earning or non-working spouse become self-supporting.
The legislation has the support of legal groups like the Florida Bar Family Law Section and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. It remains to be seen whether DeSantis vetoes it and, if so, what happens from there. If he signs the bill into law, it is currently written to take effect on July 1 of this year.
With all the time and stress involved in a divorce, it can be impossible to keep up with what state lawmakers are doing. That’s just one reason why it’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance to protect your rights and help you work toward the best possible agreements.