Florida Alimony Bill Progresses Through House and Senate

The elimination of permanent alimony in Florida, as discussed previously in this blog on Jan. 30 and Feb. 28, moves ever closer as the new legislation progresses through the system. The bill, if passed, will not only end permanent alimony but also drastically revise the requirements for it to be awarded. Should the bills pass, the law is set to become effective on July 1, 2013.

In the Florida House, the alimony bill (HB231) was approved by the Civil Justice subcommittee on March 13 and by the Judiciary Committee on March 18. HB 231 is now awaiting its second reading in the Florida House. The Senate´s version of the alimony bill is SB 718. The Senate bill passed through the Judiciary committee with an 8-1 vote on March 12. The bill is now scheduled for review by the Rules committee on March 21.

Both bills address the requirements for awarding alimony along with the duration of alimony payments. Currently, if alimony is awarded as part of a divorce settlement, it is generally awarded for life or until the party receiving the payment remarries, and it is based on the duration of the marriage and financial need at the time of the divorce. The passage of these bills will drastically change both aspects. If these bills pass, the party seeking alimony will now have to prove financial need and may see alimony payments terminated at or before retirement age.

These bills, if passed, will have a major effect on how and to whom alimony is awarded in Florida. Anyone seeking alimony payments as part of a divorce settlement needs to be aware of the legislation and its progress. An experienced family law attorney will understand the potential legislation and be able to help his or her client obtain the maximum benefit.