Alimony Legislative Update

There is currently a bill going through the Florida state house and senate that would seek to make drastic changes to the alimony law in Florida. The house bill, which is titled CS/HB 231, was approved by the Civil Justice Subcommittee on February 13, 2013. The senate bill, which is titled SB 731, is currently being reviewed by the rules committee.

The bill, if enacted into law, would make several changes to alimony. The biggest change would be the removal of permanent alimony from Florida law. The bill would also allow for automatic termination of alimony upon the payor reaching the normal age for retirement and becomes eligible to receive social security benefits. The bill would also limit the length of durational alimony to only one half of the total length of time the parties were married. The bill would also allow individuals who already have an existing alimony order to go back and seek a modification of that order based upon the new potential law.

The bill also addresses time sharing, and would add into law a presumption that 50/50 equal time sharing is in the best interest of all children, with exceptions. Under this change, all judges would be required to order 50/50 time sharing unless they find that the parties live too far apart from each other to make that feasible, one party is incarcerated, there is evidence of abuse, abandonment or neglect, or any other extenuating circumstances that would indicate a 50/50 time sharing schedule would not be in the child's best interest.

The proposed alimony and time sharing bill is not supported by the Florida Bar's Family Law section. Each bill is expected to be referred to additional committees.