Florida Senate Bill 1922: Potential Alimony Revisions
Are you considering divorce but are concerned you won’t qualify for spousal support. Conversely, do you want to separate but don’t think your spouse is entitled to indefinite alimony? No matter the situation, alimony can be waived during divorce proceedings, but under no circumstances can a divorced spouse approach the court for a post-judgment modification seeking spousal support. In addition, a spouse seeking rehabilitative or indefinite alimony needs to meet specific criteria if seeking spousal support. Florida Senate Bill 1922 changes the definition of alimony or spousal support for Florida civil unions and marriages and seeks to curtail indefinite alimony permanently. The Bill, introduced by Senator Gruters, is currently under review. If passed in both houses and signed into law by Governor DeSantis, it would take effect on July 1 of this year.
Senate Bill 1922 Analysis
Senate Bill 1922 seeks to remove permanent alimony and modify durational alimony. It also states that the court should favor bridge-the-gap alimony and rehabilitative alimony over other forms of alimony, and that the burden of proof is on the spouse requesting support to state why they are entitled to it. It also requires the court to delineate in writing their findings, rationale and holding for a spouse seeking alimony and why they are entitled to it. The bill also seeks to remove the duration of marriage factor from alimony determinations and instead evaluate the couple’s standard of living during the marriage to make a determination. It also intends to remove evaluation of each spouse’s education level, earning capacity, and non-monetary contributions to the marriage including caring for shared children, elderly parents or making the home. If passed, the bill would completely remove permanent alimony as an option for divorcing spouses, even if the dependent spouse has a documented disability. Rather that spouse would qualify for durational alimony if they can prove to the court that they would qualify for disability benefits.
Proponents of the bill state that permanent alimony is a deterrent to divorce and hurts the supporting spouse, rendering them unable to retire and still maintain the same standard of living if they must make lifetime payments to the supported spouse. Proponents also claim that if a disabled spouse qualifies for disability, they should seek it instead of seeking permanent alimony from their ex. Critics argue that eliminating most of the existing factors of alimony determination is wholly unfair to spouses seeking alimony for legitimate, substantiated reasons, and who would essentially be indigent after divorce if not for spousal support.
Types of Alimony Available
Currently, there are five categories of alimony available to divorcing spouses in Florida. Temporary, rehabilitative, durational, bridge-the-gap and permanent alimony are available to spouses depending on circumstances, duration of the marriage and contributions made to the marriage. Unlike child support calculations, which are dependent on both parents’ income, the court does not use a financial statement to reach a monetary determination in alimony awards. Rather, the court will take several factors into consideration including each spouse’s education level, current income, career prospects, and other non-monetary contributions to the marriage. The court will also consider each spouse’s health and whether or not a spouse has a permanent disability or is otherwise unable to financially support themselves after divorce. Permanent alimony is awarded to supported spouses in marriages lasting at least 17 years, in which the dependent spouse has no means of supporting themselves, no formal education, job history, job prospects, or has been diagnosed with a permanent physical or mental disability. Spouses married between 7 and 17 years may qualify for permanent alimony if specific qualifying circumstances are proven to the court.
Call Attorney Wallshein Today
If you are in the midst of a divorce or are contemplating legal separation, you may have questions about spousal support. Certainly if S.B. 1922 passes, it will have serious implications on pending divorce cases and for any spouses seeking indefinite alimony. If you need help filing, mediating a family law case, determining child support or alimony, call West Palm Beach family lawyer William Wallshein. Located conveniently in West Palm Beach with more than three decades of experience in family law, Mr. Wallshein can provide key advice and guidance at a crucial juncture. Don’t accept less than what you deserve or be bullied into a settlement by your ex. If you have questions about Senate Bill 1922 or the divorce process, call Mr. Wallshein today to schedule a consultation.