Where Does Florida Alimony Reform Stand?

Photo of an Older Couple Signing their Divorce Papers

Florida’s alimony reform movement has persisted for the past six years. Unfortunately, the battle to reform alimony in our state has affected c of Florida spouses. Specifically, wives who were in long-term marriages and “homemakers” are now in their 50s and 60s. 

Since these women often spent decades supporting their husbands’ education and careers, they missed many of their own career and educational opportunities. After years of tending to homes, children, and marriages, these women could be left in dire financial situations if alimony reform in Florida passes. This is because reform would end to their monthly alimony payments.   

On the flip side are those responsible for paying alimony—along with their new spouses—who support alimony reform in Florida. Alimony reform in Florida would essentially end lifetime alimony, introducing guidelines for spousal support, like the ones which are in place for child support. 

The “first wives” have been working equally hard to halt the legislation, which would end permanent alimony in the state of Florida—one of the few states which still awards permanent alimony. 

Many Oppose Florida’s Permanent Alimony Efforts

As perhaps the most fiercely litigated divorce court issue, disagreements about alimony often turn hostile. The legal arguments regarding Florida alimony can sometimes drag on for years—until there are few financial resources left to divide. 

Those who oppose permanent alimony base that opposition on the fact that inconsistencies can result when alimony is based only on one spouse’s “need” and the other’s ability to pay. This can result in the spouse with the higher income being forced to pay high monthly alimony payments as well as attorneys’ fees for both sides.

The primary problem with this situation is that once these men reach retirement age, the alimony payments do not end or even diminish. As an example, one 56-year-old Florida man claims he has been sending his ex-wife regular alimony checks for the past 14 years. Michel Buhler, who works in the telecommunication tower industry, finds this ludicrous in light of the fact that his ex-wife has a master’s degree—and was employed as a full-time nanny during their marriage of 16 years. Buhler says his income dropped significantly during the recession. 

When he attempted to have his payments reduced as a result of this decrease in income—a battle he lost—the legal fees were in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” preventing him from even thinking about retirement. From the other side, the ex-wife may also be experiencing quite a decrease in financial resources, working minimum-wage jobs and being forced to live with relatives or friends.   

Versions of a bill introduced in 2019 in Florida would cut lifetime alimony and establish a retroactive feature that would limit alimony to half the number of years of marriage. This feature would cut alimony out entirely for many women. Since the Florida alimony reform bill was submitted to the civil justice subcommittee in March, it has not come up for discussion. Therefore, the outcome of proposed alimony reform bill remains to be seen. 

Contact Our Melbourne Family Law Attorneys

Ending your marriage can sometimes be a difficult process. Florida’s spousal support laws can make it even more difficult. If passed, the new alimony reform law would further complicate matters. As such, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Melbourne divorce attorney as quickly as possible. 

Our office is conveniently located in Melbourne, Florida and we serve all of Brevard County, Florida. Please contact an experienced Melbourne divorce lawyer at the Law Office of Jeffrey Thompson by calling (321)253-3771. 

Additional Resources

What Happens When Your Ex Stops Making Child Support Payments?

Divorcing a Military Spouse in Florida

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