New bill could mean big changes for alimony in Florida

Permanent alimony, defined formulas are key points in new legislation

By Paul Giorgio - Producer

MELBOURNE, Fla. - Major changes could be coming to Florida's alimony law.

If it passes this session, House Bill 943 will put an end to permanent alimony and allow payers to retire without having to pay alimony to their former spouse.

Alan Frisher, co-founder of The Family Law Reform advocacy group, said the change is long overdue.

"I think our laws are really archaic," he said. "We haven't changed our laws for the last 50 years in essence and now it's time to really make the change."

Frisher said there are five key points to the proposed law. In addition to the removal of permanent alimony and the ability to modify or eliminate alimony at retirement, the bill also defines a formula judges must use when determining settlements.

"We want to be able to give judges discretion, but we don't want to give them so much discretion that there's no consistency from one sector to another, because right now there's no predictability or consistency," Frisher said.

The bill will also address second wives and husbands. Currently if someone paying alimony remarries, the courts can view the new spouse's income as 'family income' that is eligible for an upward modification in payment.

Under the current law, modification is also possible if a payer earns a greater yearly salary. Payers cannot be brought back to court under the new bill. 

A similar bill was vetoed in 2013 by Gov. Rick Scott. That bill had language that would have allowed it to apply retroactively. Scott said it would have unanticipated results. HB 943 has eliminated that language.  

If it passes, the law would go into effect in October.

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