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.
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.