Florida House Bill 549 and Florida Senate Bill 748: Florida’s New Proposed Alimony Laws

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States throughout the nation are revisiting their Alimony Laws and Florida is no different. Late last year, Florida Representative Ritch Workman and Senator Diaz de la Portilla filed similar bills that would change how alimony is calculated. Representative Workman filed Bill 549 and Senator Portilla filed Bill 748.

See: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/748

Those who oppose the Bill

Critics of the new piece of legislation stated that the new bill might pigeonhole women and men into relationships they do not want to be in anymore, because they may not be able to financially support themselves, thereby possibly having to stay in an unhealthy marriage. Currently, if there is a need for alimony and the other party can pay alimony, than alimony may be granted. In the current form, the bill would end permanent alimony; however, one can still receive payments for a certain time period.

Those who support the Bill

Supporters, such as the Florida Alimony Reform Organization, support the new legislation                                                                             ( http://www.floridaalimonyreform.com/florida-alimony-reform-bill-2012-hb549-sb748.htm). Supporters of the bill argue that it is not fair for a person to pay alimony for the rest of that person’s life and there has to be some point of “end time,” similar to child support. Currently, child support payments generally end at the age of 18 or 19, depending on high school graduation.

My Thoughts

I do believe that there should be some change to the Alimony Laws on the books, however, how far that change should go is the question. Currently there is language in the SB 748 that states:

 

The court must reduce or terminate an award of alimony if it determines upon specific written findings by the court that since               the granting of a divorce and the award of alimony a supportive relationship has existed between the obligee and a                                 person with whom the obligee resides.

This proposed portion of the law makes sense if a party moves on with his or her life, and supports that the financial support from the ex-spouse should change as well. However, supportive relationship is defined a

A person is deemed to maintain a supportive relationship when he or she shares a primary residence together with or without            another person for a period of at least 3 continuous months in a common household.

I do not know if 3 months is enough time to modify or terminate alimony and establish that a supportive relationship has been established. However, the SB 748 states:

If an alimony award has been modified to terminate due to a supportive relationship and that supportive relationship does not             produce a marriage, the obligee is not  entitled to reinstatement of alimony from the obligor.

In the end, either side, supporters or non-supporters, will have valid arguments and finding that happy medium will be key; however, the best thing both parties should do before getting married to plan ahead for such concerns is enter and sign a PRENUPITAL AGREEMENT.

 

 

 

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bill Perkins
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 17:06:33

    Critics citing that this bill will keep unhealthy marriages together because one won’t get divorced because they could not live on their own is hilarious! Just as many unhealthy marriages stay together because one can’t afford to pay the alimony it would cost them to get divorced! It works both ways.
    Judges discretion must be reigned in. They are awarding LIFETIME alimony to college educated adults still in their 30′s and 40′s. Clients are coached to show greater need by leaving their careers due to some sort of illness. It is a legal scam!
    Permanent alimony will eventually be a thing of the past because it only belonged in the past.
    Divorce and paying permanent alimony is basically the ADOPTION of an ADULT FOREVER!

    Reply

    • Junior Pulayya
      Feb 13, 2012 @ 22:55:13

      Great points! Let’s see what happens.

      Reply

  2. Stan Rosen
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 11:01:00

    I’m glad Mr. Workman is taking the charge to revise alimony. It is long overdue!

    Reply

    • Junior Pulayya
      Feb 13, 2012 @ 22:54:08

      Alot of individuals feel that this is long overdue!

      Reply

  3. Anonymous
    Feb 13, 2012 @ 16:12:19

    I support the original bill and oppose the amended version of the Senate bill.
    I agree wholeheartedly that a prenuptial agreement is warranted for any marriage. In reality however, a prenuptial agreement presumes that the marriage might fail and no young couple wants to do that. The original law (not the gutted Judicial Subcommittee gloss-over) addresses the issue for those of us starry-eyed wage earners who married a partner who became dependent and who doesn’t want to make any changes now that they can sit back and continue to spend without earning.
    There is an alternative for couples if SB748C1 (subcommittee-gutted version) passes. Don’t get married, and don’t allow commonlaw marriage to be set up.
    For those of us who are unhappily married and thinking that we just want to get our kids out of school before making a change, we may not have a choice to wait unless a version of the original (not the C1) bill is passed.

    - Anonymous

    Reply

    • Junior Pulayya
      Feb 13, 2012 @ 22:53:20

      It’s is going to be interesting to see what the final result will be!

      Reply

  4. Anonymous
    Feb 15, 2012 @ 11:40:27

    I read the C1 version of HB 549 and can get behind it.

    I think that alimony should not be extended longer than half the duration of the marriage, and the C1 version of HB 549 allows alimony for the full duration of the marriage, but it does require a court to find in favor of durational (time limited) over long-term (until remarriage, retirement, or death) alimony unless there are clear reasons why long-term is required.
    I also find that the C1 version of HB 549 requires courts to assume that the standard of living will decrease for both parties, and to consider the standard of living for both parties when awarding alimony.
    The C1 version takes assets acquired outside of the marriage out of the alimony equation. This is only fair if pension and retirement plans were built up before the parties married. Only the values acquired during the marriage would be applied to alimony.
    HB 549C1 amends HB549 while maintaining most the basic goals of the bill (other than completely eliminating permanent alimony). This is a major improvement over SB 748C1, which discards the goals of the bill and proposes a significantly less equitable alimony law.

    - Anonymous

    Reply

    • Junior Pulayya
      Feb 15, 2012 @ 21:58:22

      Great points, there has to be a happy medium with this bill in order to pass it into law. Getting rid of permanent alimony maybe a good step however, there has to be time for the other spouse to recover and move on financially with their life.

      Reply

  5. Anonymous
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 14:29:33

    HB 0549 C1 vs. C2

    In general, I favor the original bill over C1, but appreciate some of the modifications in C1. As a whole, I favor C1 over C2, but prefer some of the modifications in C2. I’d like to see a merger of the three.

    C1 limits combined alimony to rehabilitative + bridge-the-gap. (preferred); C2 limits combined alimony to a combination of rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap, short term, and long-term
    C1 looks at the standard of living for both parties in the marriage, (preferred); C2 does not.
    C1 looks at assets acquired during the marriage only. (preferred); C2 looks at assets brought into the marriage by either party.
    C1 makes alimony tax-deductible to the payor and taxable to the recipient. (preferred); C2 defers tax deductability to state and federal laws
    C1 and C2 assume that the standard of living for both parties will decrease
    C1 and C2 limit other equity and justice factors by requiring findings of fact by the court.
    C1 deducts the cost of security/life insurance from the alimony award. C2 also requires special circumstances and evidentiary findings (preferred)
    C1 and C2 extend long-term marriage from 17 to 20 years
    C1 requires rehabilitative alimony to be modified or terminated if the recipient completes the rehabilitative plan, does not comply with the rehabilitative plan, or there is a change of circumstances. (preferred); C2 allows for modification at the court’s discretion.
    C1 presumes durational over long-term (permanent) alimony and terminates upon the existence of a supportive relationship. (preferred); C2 requires that the court provide written reasons why durational alimony is required over bridge-the-gap and rehabilitative alimony and terminates upon the existence of a supportive relationship, but allows the court to continue durational upon exceptional circumstances (with written findings).
    C1 does not allow durational alimony to be awarded for longer than the duration of the marriate. C2 requires the court to make written findings if durational alimony is awarded for longer than 50% of the duration of the marriage (preferred)
    C1 and C2 allow long-term (permanent) alimony with written findings that no other form of alimony will suffice, and require termination if a supportive relationship exists.
    C1 and C2 require alimony to not leave the payor with significantly less net income than the recipient.
    C1 deletes section 61.14-1-a (going to court to change support). C2 requires increases in the payor’s income to be maintained for more than 1 year before adjusting an alimony award. (preferred)
    C1 and C2 require the court to terminate alimony if the recipient is in a supportive relationship except with a written finding of exceptional circumstances.
    C1 requires the recepient to declare a supportive relationship and to pay back alimony paid during that supportive relationship as well as court costs and legal fees if the payer needs to go to court. C2 presumes that the recipient will pay back alimony paid during a supportive relationship and requires the recipient to pay court costs and legal fees if the court finds that the recipient litigated unnecessarily. (I prefer a merger of the two)
    C1 and C2 do not allow reinstation of alimony upon termination of a supportive relationship
    C1 and C2 do not consider income from the payer’s new spouse in the alimony award
    C1 and C2 do not allow alimony to increase when child support ends.
    C1 and C2 terminate alimony upon retirement of they payer unless the court presents written findings of exceptional circumstances.
    C1 requires the recipient to maximize rehabilitative potential for self-support. (preferred); C2 does not unless a rehabilitative plan is established.
    C2 defers to existing law to set guidelines for alimony awards. C1 makes no mention of this. (I have not reviewed the existing law)
    C1 allows the court to split the divorce from the separation/alimony 180 days after filing. C2 allows the court to split the divorce from the separation/alimony 180 days after filing and requires the court to split the proceedings after 365 days if either party requests the split. (preferred)
    C2 allows the court to restrict sale of property and marital assets, continue insurance support, and establish temporary support during split proceedings. (preferred); C1 provides no guidance on this.

    - Anonymous

    Reply

  6. Anonymous
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 15:30:32

    Just saw a note that HB 549C2 is now HB549E1 and has passed the house with a vote of 83Y and 30N. It will be very interesting to see what happens in the Senate and in the reconciliation committee.

    Reply

  7. Anonymous
    Aug 17, 2012 @ 14:52:00

    regarding the workman bill hb549, I believe it to be  unfair and unjust. in my own case i as a stay at home mom left my field of (nursing) 18 years ago and now at the age of 52 my ex is taking me back to court to try to eliminate alimony.  during our marriage he earned as a neurosurgeon between 800,000 and 1.2 million per year.  immediately after the separation his income diminished by  intentionally underemploying himself thereby making the alimony significantly less.  after agreeing out of court to a settlement, 2yrs later he is bringing this back to court, stating his income has further been reduced. He is doing this because of the Workman bill.  now lets talk about the fact that he was a senior partner in his 6 man practice now after 2 yrs is an equal partner.  the practice owns 3 buildings the practice is expanding to the other coast and to GA the practice has ancilliary services the practice rents office space in all three buildings  the practice is self insured with a captive ins co   the income of the other partners in the practice has been consistant throughout the years  however,  the income of the two partners obtaining divorce has diminished significantly.  my ability to work is made impossible by two physical conditions.  and, even if i could work as a nurse again i would begin at an entry level and have to be reeducated.  that would start me at 25k a year  at 52 years old with financial obligations of over 12k per month!!!
    the alimony amount was designated as permanant upon mutual agreement between both parties.  as a partner he receives benefits from the practice he is vested in all of the properties rents royalties and fees from ancillary services.  this is a multi million dollar corporation  which has recently borrowed 10million formed new llcs and is expanding. which he is 1/6 an owner of.   but he cannot pay alimony.  thanks to the Workman bill he and others like him will stampede the courtrooms to try to eliminate or reduce their payments placing the obligees in constant fear of what the future may bring to them
    PLEASE DO NOT LET HB549 PASS

    Reply

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