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House Bill 231 Seeks to End Permanent Alimony in Florida

March 4, 2013

Gavel

The Florida House is yet again considering a proposed measure that would end permanent alimony awards. House Bill 231, sponsored by Representative Ritch Workman of Melbourne, would reportedly limit the number of years spousal support could be collected, shield retirees from being forced to pay alimony, and remove the option for alimony in the case of marriages that lasted less than 10 years. Still, the proposed law would purportedly allow a judge to award long-term durational alimony where appropriate. Absent exceptional circumstances, such spousal support awards would be limited to a period of no longer than half the length of a former couple's marriage.

According to Representative Workman, Florida's current alimony laws are outdated and need to be reformed. Representative Cynthia Stafford of Miami disagrees. She purportedly believes the proposed measure is one-sided and would likely harm many divorcees in Florida. In February, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted 10-2 to approve the bill. Only Representatives Stafford and Jose Javier Rodriguez of Miami voted against the proposed bill.

The subcommittee vote reportedly followed sharply divided testimony regarding the current alimony system in Florida. One man allegedly testified that half of his wages are still paid to his former spouse decades after the couple's marriage ended. Another individual supposedly described to lawmakers how a permanent alimony award allowed her to continue living in her home following the end of her 20-year marriage. Next, House Bill 231 will be considered by Florida's House Judiciary Committee. In addition, a substantially similar bill, Senate Bill 718, was recently introduced in the Florida Senate.

In Florida, a family law judge may choose to award alimony following a divorce based on a number of factors. The length of the marriage, each party's financial situation, and the overall marital history may play a role in such an award. Of course, if a party was only married for one or two years, the probability of receiving any alimony payment for any number of years is very low. In addition, a Florida family court may award spousal support on a temporary or permanent basis for a variety of reasons. Generally, any Florida alimony award will be based on both the financial need of one spouse and the ability to pay of the other. Because obtaining a spousal support award can be complex, anyone in the midst of a divorce in Florida should speak with a skilled family law attorney to discuss their rights.

Another factor to consider is the taxability of alimony. Previously, individuals obtaining a divorce had the option to decide whether or not the alimony payments would be taxable to the recipient spouse and deductible by the payor spouse. The law recently changed and eliminated that option. Presently, alimony is not taxed to the recipient spouse and it cannot be deducted by the payor spouse. Family law practitioners were concerned that this change in the law would result in more litigation, because it may be more difficult to reach an agreement as to alimony since the payor spouse no longer has the benefit of being able to deduct that obligation from his deductible income.

At the Law Firm of Vilar Law, P.A., our dedicated attorneys focus their practice exclusively on family law matters. Our experienced Miami family lawyers are available to assist you with all of your family law needs including complex divorces, child custody, child support, complex equitable distribution, spousal support agreements, alimony, prenuptial contracts, post-judgment enforcement and modification, paternity, and domestic violence. The Law Firm of Vilar Law, P.A. represents clients who are located throughout the Miami Metro. To discuss your alimony or other family law case with a dedicated advocate, you should contact attorney Patrick Vilar through our website or give us a call at (305) 373-8000.

More Articles
  • Frequently Asked Family Law Questions: Factors to Consider When Hiring a Miami Divorce Attorney, Miami Family Lawyer Blog, March 12, 2012
Additional Resources
  • Florida House bill proposes to limit alimony, by Jim Saunders, Palm Beach Post

Photo credit: mihow, Stock.xchng

Article updated November 5, 2020.

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