An Overview of Florida’s 2020 Alimony Reform Bill
On January 13th, 2020, SB 1832 was officially filed in the Florida State Senate. The companion to a similar House bill, the legislation seeks to reform our state’s alimony (spousal support) laws. Alimony reform has been a hot topic in Tallahassee for many years—and these bills mark just the latest attempt to make major changes to Florida law. In this article, our Tampa family attorneys explain the key things you need to know about Senate Bill 1832 and the proposed Florida alimony reforms.
Understanding Two Key Elements of Florida’s Alimony Reform Legislation
- Permanent Alimony Would Be Eliminated
In Florida, permanent alimony can be awarded to the financially disadvantaged spouse following a divorce. In some circumstances, a spouse may be entitled to receive lifetime alimony—at least until they get remarried. If enacted, Senate Bill 1832 would essentially eliminate the possibility of permanent alimony. Indeed, the bill grants alimony payers (obligors) a right to retire. Upon reaching federal retirement age, a person who owes alimony in Florida would be allowed to stop making permanent alimony payments without having their retirement funds garnished.
As an alternative to permanent alimony, proponents of the bill want Florida to shift to a system focused on rehabilitative alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, and durational alimony. Notably, Senate Bill 1832 seeks to cap durational alimony at half of the length of the marriage. For example, if a Hillsborough County couple was married for 20 years, the financially disadvantaged spouse may be granted up to ten years of durational alimony.
- New Alimony Formula—Limits on Judicial Discretion
Additionally, Senate Bill 1832 (and its counterpart in the Florida House) contains a new alimony formula. Lawmakers who support the reforms want to create an alimony formula that, roughly, resembles the state child support guidelines—at least insofar as there will be uniform standards that will only be deviated from in specific circumstances. One of the key effects of the reforms, should they be passed, is that they will dramatically scale back the amount of judicial discretion in alimony cases.
The Future of Alimony Reform is Still Uncertain
It should be emphasized that Senate Bill 1832 is far from certain to become law. Proponents of alimony reform have been pushing these changes since 2015. Although support for the reforms has increased among state lawmakers, the proponents, as of yet, have not been able to get their bills across the finish line. Still, there is a significant push for reform. Changes may be coming. Our Tampa family lawyers will keep a close watch on Florida’s 2020 alimony reform bills and any related legal developments.
Call Our Tampa, FL Spousal Support Lawyers Today
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our Florida family law attorneys have extensive experience handling complex divorces, including disputes over spousal support. If you have questions about your rights or obligations, we can help. To request a completely confidential, no commitment initial consultation, please contact us today. We handle divorce & family law cases throughout Hillsborough County, including in Tampa, Brandon, Land O Lakes, Chapel, and Valrico.