Florida Alimony Law Will Be Extensively Altered

A bill overhauling Florida's alimony law reached the hands of Gov. Rick Scott after passing both the Florida House and Senate. If it becomes law, currently divorcing couples and former spouses could feel the changes take hold as early as this summer.

The bill extensively alters the law as it stands now, with such significant changes including almost a complete elimination of permanent alimony and the ability to place a cap on alimony awards based on the length of a marriage and income.

“Instead of permanent alimony, alimony will almost always be limited in duration to not more than one-half the length of a marriage,” explained Charlie Boyle, a marital and family law attorney with the Farr Law Firm. Limits, he continued, would be placed on the amount of alimony that could be awarded up to a specific percentage of a paying spouse's gross income.

The bill also contains retroactive impacts. This means current alimony payors would be able to apply to the courts as early as July 1, 2013 for a reduction in alimony payments, or, in some cases, termination of payments entirely.

“Some alimony recipients that have been relying on support, possibly for several years, could have that support reduced or terminated,” explained Natalie Lashway, also a family law attorney with Farr.

The bill addresses time-sharing as well, providing a presumption for equal time-sharing of minor children.

“Most significantly, the bill creates a presumption that equal time-sharing with each parent is in the best interest of the child,” Lashway said.

The 50/50 time-sharing can be argued against in some situations, including when the safety, well-being, and physical, mental, and emotional health of the child would be endangered by equal time-sharing.

“In any case, if you are a person who may be affected by this new and sweeping legislation, please make sure that you seek competent advice from a family law attorney,” Boyle said.