The continued clash over alimony reform in Florida just welcomed back one its most contentious policy battles with a newly proposed bill to end “permanent alimony.” Robert Sparks Attorneys Partner Robert D. Sparks shared his insight on the matter in a special feature recently aired on Fox 13 Tampa Bay. You can view the full segment below:
What is Permanent Alimony?
Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, is something many people are familiar with. However, few – including many spouses considering divorce – know there are actually several types of alimony which may be ordered in a Florida divorce:
- Temporary Alimony, which is ordered during a pending divorce;
- Bridge-the-Gap Alimony, which provides short-term support after a finalized divorce;
- Rehabilitative Alimony to assist a former spouse in gaining skills, education, and / or training to improve their employability and ability to earn meaningful income of their own;
- Durational Alimony, which is support of a duration based on the length of the marriage; and
- Permanent Alimony, intended for spouses unable to support themselves.
Permanent alimony, as the name implies is a type spousal support awarded to one spouse after a marriage on an indefinite basis. Though it’s sometimes called “forever alimony,” there are times when it can be terminated, such as when the recipient spouse re-marries. For all intents and purposes, however, it is a major financial consideration in any divorce case where permanent alimony is on the table, and as Rob tells Fox 13, it often comes into play when cases involve long-term marriages where one spouse stayed at home to raise children, while the other supported the marriage / family financially.
Arguments over permanent alimony in Florida have been contentious: paying parties say it’s unfair, while recipients say they shouldn’t be financially impaired because they and their spouse mutually decided for them to stay home and take care of the children during their marriage. In fact, the debate over permanent alimony and whether it should be abolished has been quite the divisive matter in the Florida Legislature, and a major reason why alimony reform measures have stagnated in recent years.
The newly proposed measure (SB 1596) would, among other things, require any party seeking alimony in a divorce to prove (by clear and convincing evidence) their soon-to-be-ex has the financial means to pay alimony. The prospective recipient spouse also has the burden of proving their need for alimony, which might include evidence about their diminished employability from being out of the workforce.
The bill additionally protects Social Security retirement benefits of ex-spouses, and would make it easier for retired folks to pay less alimony, something likely proposed in response to high rates of “Grey Divorce,” but also creates a presumption for awarding spousal support in cases involving long-term marriages.
Our divorce and family lawyers at Robert Sparks Attorneys have decades of collective experience handling matters of alimony, including contentious proceedings and disputes. To discuss a potential case, call (813) 336-3348 or contact us online.