Bill Presented To Governor
According to the website of The Florida Senate, today legislative officers signed the enrolled bill, meaning the version finally approved by both houses, and presented it to the governor for his consideration.
As we recently posted, S.B. 1796 is extremely controversial and the governor has managed to keep his opinion to himself, so many in the state who deal professionally or personally with family law, divorce and related matters have been on pins and needles to learn what he will do with the law.
Cs/cs/sb : Dissolution Of Marriage
Dissolution of Marriage Requiring the court to make certain written findings in its awards of alimony removing the courts ability to consider adultery of either spouse in determining the amount of an alimony award revising factors that the court must consider in determining the proper type and amount of alimony revising a provision authorizing the modification of rehabilitative alimony upon completion of the rehabilitative plan to include a certain condition requiring the court to consider specified factors when determining an alimony award involving the existence of a supportive relationship between the obligee and another person, etc.
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|Time-Sharing of a Minor Child||Borrero||Last Action: 1/4/2022 H Withdrawn prior to introduction|
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What Advocates & Critics Say
Advocates of the bill believe that permanent alimony is an unfair burden to people, one that forces them to work longer into what might otherwise be their retirement years to make the payments. They argue that it serves as a disincentive for the spouse receiving the payments to either re-enter the workforce or seek professional advancement as they otherwise might. Advocates further contend that it serves as an incentive for the spouse receiving the payments to turn away from remarriage opportunities they might otherwise accept.
Critics argue that permanent alimony is a fair and equitable system for spouses who may have spent their married life at home raising children. What happens to the spouse who raised several kids and then saw their marriage end after all the children left the nest? This is particularly pertinent in cases where the financially advantaged spouse earned a high income. The stay-at-home spouse cannot realistically hope to achieve anything resembling the same standard of living they once enjoyed, or what their ex-spouse may enjoy. At the very least, critics believe that permanent alimony at least needs to continue as an option under Florida law.
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Florida Alimony Reform 202: What You Need To Know
Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed Senate Bill 1796 at the end of June, which would have retroactively abolished permanent alimony and prioritized 50/50 timesharing in the state of Florida. The main reason for the veto was the fact that this new legislation would have undone thousands of pre-existing alimony and custody settlements. DeSantis stated that retroactively changing alimony agreements was unconstitutional.
What Does This Mean For Your Alimony Settlement
If you have an existing alimony agreement with your ex, nothing changes. If youre currently going through the process of creating an alimony agreement, understand that you can still file for alimony modification if there are major changes in either persons financial situation since the time alimony was agreed upon.
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Collecting Alimony Under Florida Law
Not everyone is fond of giving money to their ex-spouse to sustain their way of living. This can sometimes make it hard for the receiving spouse to collect the agreed alimony amount. Fortunately, Florida alimony law offers safe and reliable methods to get what the receiving party deserves.
Garnishment is one of the known methods for collecting alimony in Florida. It is a process where a specific amount will go directly to the ex-spouses account. A prime example of this is wage garnishment. The agreed alimony amount is taken off directly from the paying spouses salary.
Additionally, there are cases where other forms of income, such as pensions and spendthrift trusts, could be garnished as a form of alimony payments .
Florida Alimony Reform Bill Tiptoes Toward Finish Line Will It Cross
For the past couple of months, we have been keeping readers up to date on the saga of the major alimony and parenting time bill that passed the state legislature in March. Since then, it has not been presented to Gov. Ron DeSantis as required by the state constitution until today, June 17.
Gov Desantis Vetoes Florida Legislatures Attempt To Reform Alimony Statutes
For years, Floridas Legislature has attempted to overhaul Floridas alimony law. And this year was no different, as Floridas Legislature once again attempted to enact sweeping changes in an effort to reform Floridas alimony statutes. On June 24 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the current bill .
Similar bills have been previously vetoed by prior Florida governors as well, including by Governor Rick Scott in 2016. In explaining why, Governor DeSantis explained that, had the changes gone into effect, the retroactive nature of the bill would unconstitutionally impair vested rights under certain preexisting marital settlement agreements. The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar among others had lobbied against the changes, which, in addition to eliminating permanent alimony, also limited the availability of durational alimony to marriages of longer than 3 years and further capped how long a recipient could get durational alimony . The amount of durational alimony awarded by a court would also not have been permitted to exceed 35% of the difference between the parties net incomes. Other significant changes included extensive provisions related to retirement, and the modification/termination of alimony accordingly.
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Divorce Adultery And Alimony Requests In Florida
Florida Statute 61.09 states that a paying spouse may be liable to pay alimony even if the couple is not divorced. The state doesnt recognize legal separation, unlike many states. However, alimony can still be pursued even if a couple is not legally divorced. The alimony under this statute supports the continuation of the marriage and provides a possibility of reconciliation in the future .
A married couple still has a legal duty to help each other financially. That means a court may still order spousal support even if the couple is separated. The amount of alimony should be appropriate to the standard of living that the receiving party enjoyed during the couples marriage .
For filing a divorce in Florida, the state law requires at least one of the spouses to be a state resident for six months before the divorce petition. However, when talking about durational alimony requirements, residency is not necessary .
The state of Florida is known as a no-fault divorce state. This means under the states divorce law, an individual doesnt need to provide or prove any reason, such as adultery, to facilitate a divorce. So, the act of cheating, for instance, will play a minor role in a permanent alimony request.
The Child Custody Provision
As if the debate over alimony werent heated enough, Senate Bill 1796 follows in the footsteps of other recent reform efforts in proposing an amendment to laws regarding child custody. The proposal would require that judges deciding on custody start with the premise that the childs best interests are served by spending 50 percent of their time with each parent.
Supporters say this merely puts into writing what judges already do in practice. They also point out that the proposal does not require a 50/50 split. It merely puts in place a rebuttable presumption. The presumption being that 50/50 is best, and its up to the parent who wants more than that to prove why.
Critics say this will place a burden on parents who might be divorcing from a spouse over matters such as drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence or some other factor that has a direct impact on their ability to raise children. They argue that the current systemwhere judges can consider a wide range of factors and use their own discretionis more likely to produce good outcomes than the rebuttable presumption.
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Awarding Alimony Under Florida Law
Some factors affect the courts judgment when awarding alimony in Florida. The court will consider alimony if they deem it necessary. The ability to pay alimony is also a crucial element when deciding its validity.
If the court cant get enough relevant evidence to support a form of alimony payment, the court may deny the requesting party from receiving alimony from their ex-spouse.
Factors Affecting Alimony Awards
Once the court reviews everything and comes up with an order declaring that alimony is appropriate, talks about the type and the possible amount of alimony will follow. The Florida statutes provide a list of factors that serve as a guide when determining an alimony amount that is considered fair and appropriate.
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Governor Ron Desantis Vetoes Florida Alimony Reform Bill 2022
On June 24, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the Florida Alimony Reform Bill that was presented to him by the Florida Legislature on June 17, 2022. Governor DeSantis, a Harvard trained attorney and former Special Assistant United States Attorney, vetoed the legislation based upon the fact that it violated Article I, Section 10 of the Florida Constitution. In his veto letter to Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, Governor DeSantis stated: If CS/CS/SB1796 were to become law and be given retroactive effect as the Legislature intends, it would unconstitutionally impair vested rights under certain preexisting marital settlement agreements. See art. I, § 10, Fla. Const.
The Alimony Reform Bill would have had significant ramifications, including the following.
First, under the 2022 Alimony Reform Bill, permanent alimony would have been abolished for all divorce cases pending after July 1, 2022. As a result of the Governors veto, there are now four types of alimony in Florida. They are bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent alimony.
Fourth, at the present time, a payor can be ordered to purchase life insurance to secure an award of alimony. The 2022 Alimony Reform Bill eliminated this requirement and permitted the payee to purchase life insurance on the life of the payor if he or she chose to do so.
To speak with a West Palm Beach divorce lawyer to discuss alimony in Florida, contact the Lane Law Firm, P.A. at 363-3400.
Do You Need To Pay Alimony Forever In Florida
Not all alimony agreements are permanent, but those that are will remain so. Lifetime alimony can occur if the marriage lasted longer than 17 years. Lifetime alimony lasts until one party dies or until the alimony recipient gets re-married. Lifetime alimony remains in place if the alimony payer gets re-married but the recipient is not re-married.
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Ending Permanent Alimony In Florida
A provision to eliminate permanent alimony as an option for judges in divorce cases continues to be the featured part of the legislative effort. To best understand the impact if this proposal becomes law, lets consider it in the context of all types of Florida alimony
Temporary Alimony: This only lasts as long as the divorce proceedings. When a marriage ends, its not uncommon for the spouses to be in different financial situations based on how the marriage functioned. A spouse who stayed at home with children or in some other way sacrificed a career for the marriage will be financially disadvantaged. Temporary alimony helps pay their legal fees and basic living expenses while the divorce is being litigated.
Bridge the Gap Alimony: Similar to temporary alimony, but extending beyond the period of the divorce proceedings, this form of support is meantas the name suggeststo help provide support while the spouse establishes a new way of life. These payments can go up to two years.
Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of spousal support lasts a little longer and covers the costs needed to allow the financially disadvantaged spouse to get back on their feet. An example might be vocational training. This is similar in intent and practice to Bridge the Gap Alimony. The key difference is that Rehabilitative Alimony is tied to a purpose rather than a timeframe.
Alimony Reform: Proposed Changes To Watch
Florida legislators are again proposing significant reforms to Floridas alimony law. There is a new bill pending in the Florida legislature: Senate Bill 1796 , which seeks to reform laws related to alimony and bifurcation of issues in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. As of January 26, 2022, it is still under review in the Senate Chamber.
Alimony is a monetary amount, ordered by the court, that one spouse pays to the other spouse for purposes of support and maintenance. Alimony can be ordered by the court during a divorce proceeding, as temporary relief, or after the parties are formally divorced, as a final order. There are five types of alimony which can be awarded by the court, which include: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent alimony. Each of these types of alimony vary in their purpose and duration. In determining an alimony award, the court considers the financial need of the spouse seeking alimony, the ability of the other spouse to pay, and other relevant factors enumerated under Florida law.
Under the proposed bill, there are several significant changes to keep an eye on. Listed below you will find a few of the most significant proposed changes, as they pertain to alimony, explained.
Factors of Consideration in Alimony Claims: Supportive Relationships
Additional Changes to Watch
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Child Support And Alimony
Most paying parties look at child support and alimony as the same thing. However, the court looks at these things separately.
Alimony is the obligation a paying spouse needs to fulfill to their ex-spouse to help them get back on their feet. On the other hand, child support is the amount involved in raising a child. This covers food expenses, clothes, and other essential things a child needs to grow. If children are involved, courts can order child support and alimony simultaneously.
Florida Alimony Reform: The 2022 Edition
The Florida state legislature reconvened on January 11. And while there are high-profile issues the state House and Senate must deal withfrom the COVID-19 pandemic to finalizing new legislative maps based on the 2020 census–it wouldnt be a Florida legislative session if alimony reform werent on the agenda.
Proposed changes to the Florida alimony rules have been a hot topic in the legislature for several years now. Bills have been passed, but then vetoed by the governor. For supporters, the search for alimony reform has turned into a constant quest. For detractors, its the subject that just wont go away.
The 2022 Florida legislative session will be no different. Senator Joe Gruters, with co-sponsorship from Representatives Ana Maria Rodriguez and Ed Hooper, have already introduced legislation that will deal with alimony reform. The major components of Senate Bill 1796 are fundamentally the same as what was in previous reform efforts.
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Why The Controversy
Specifically, it would do away with permanent alimony, give alimony payors specific rights upon reasonable retirement, direct judges to presume a 50-50 split in parenting time is in a childs best interest and forbid judges from considering adultery in setting alimony awards, among other things. We discussed these provisions in detail in several previous blogs on this website.
What Happens Now
The governor has 15 days from the date of presentation to sign or veto the bill. If he does not veto it within the time limit, it becomes law as if he had signed it, according to the Florida Constitution. Since this is not an appropriations bill, he may not veto some provisions and approve others a veto or approval here must be of the entire bill.
Should he veto it, he must send his objections in writing to the legislative house in which the bill originated . The Florida Constitution sets out specific procedures for what the legislature may do with the legislation in that scenario as well as a process for overriding a veto by a two-thirds vote of each house.
Stay tuned to this space.
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