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Florida lawmakers vote – again – to end permanent alimony

On Behalf of | May 3, 2023 | Firm News |

Alimony is a hotly debated topic in many Florida divorces and it has been a highly controversial subject for many years in state government. Several times in recent years, Florida lawmakers have attempted to overhaul the alimony laws. Just last year, the legislature voted to eliminate permanent alimony, only to have their bill vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Now, the legislature is trying again.

Recently, the Florida legislature voted in favor of a new bill to eliminate permanent alimony. Unlike the one that was vetoed last year, this bill is not retroactive. In other words, it will prohibit future permanent alimony orders, but will not affect such orders that are already in effect.

Proponents say this could mean the bill is more likely than previous efforts to become law. Gov. DeSantis cited the retroactivity issue among the reasons he vetoed last year’s bill.

What is permanent alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a payment from one ex-spouse to another. While it is not as common as it was in previous generations, alimony is still a feature of many divorces. In some cases, the parties agree to alimony terms on their own as part of their divorce settlement. In others, a court will order one spouse to pay alimony in the interest of fairness.

A fairly typical scenario involves one spouse who stayed home to raise the couple’s children during the marriage while the other pursued a high-paying career. When the couple divorces, even after a generous division of property, the working spouse can continue to earn a high salary while the non-working spouse might be left with little or no income. In such a case, a court might order the high-earning spouse to pay alimony to their ex.

Most often, alimony orders are meant to be temporary. In what is known as rehabilitative alimony, a court might tie an alimony order to a career or educational milestone. For instance, the alimony order may be designed to let the financially dependent spouse finish a graduate school program so that they can eventually become financially independent.

In other cases, a court might order so-called durational alimony. For instance, the court might order alimony for a stay-at-home spouse who is caring for the couple’s children. A durational alimony order might be tied to the children’s ages. The order might expire when the youngest child turns 18.

Permanent alimony, of course, has no such time limitation. It’s rare for a court to order permanent alimony. When they do, it’s almost always in cases involving marriages of long duration. An order for permanent alimony ends upon the death of either of the parties or the remarriage of the receiving spouse.

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