Could the Fourth Attempt at Alimony Reform in Florida do the Trick?
Staff Writer, Ayo & Iken Law Firm
March 4, 2021
TALLAHASSEE – In baseball, a third strike usually means the batter is out, but advocates for alimony reform say it’s been three balls and this time they’re hoping for a homerun, or at least a walk to first base.
Senator Joe Gruters (R) of Sarasota and Representative Anthony Rodriguez (R) of Miami filed companion bills Monday, in an effort to, once again, reform Florida’s antiquated alimony rules. If adopted, the measure would completely do away with permanent alimony and force the party seeking support to demonstrate the need for bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, or durational alimony. In addition, the courts must provide in writing the type of alimony and length of time in which will be required by the obligor. The length of any award would not exceed 50% of the length of the marriage or five years, whichever is shorter. If an obligor remarries, the recipient will no longer be able to request a modification based on the income of the obligor’s new spouse.
The law currently requires obligors to pay alimony passed retirement age, even if their income is drastically reduced, but the new law would allow that obligation to expire, even if retirement comes before the obligation is fulfilled. However, the court may consider the circumstances of the recipient before granting a modification. Gruters and Rodriguez would like the courts to consider alimony decisions based on all available financial evidence and take into consideration that both parties will have a lower standard of living.
One of the most contentious elements of both bills is the added presumption of equal time-sharing with minor children. As it stands, Florida Statute reads: There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child. Fathers’ Rights Advocates say there needs to be clear guidelines for courts to follow when determining time-sharing between parents. The proposed language reads: Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, there is a presumption that equal time-sharing is in the best interest of a minor child common to both parties.
Florida remains just one of six states that still allow permanent alimony awards.