alimony reform


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April 25, 2016 by bjh1

Earlier this month, the Florida legislature sent a proposed new law to Governor Rick Scott for review.   This proposed law would have modified how alimony is determined in a divorce, and also the initial premise of parental time-sharing for minor children.  On April 15, 2016, Governor Scott vetoed the legislation.

The proposed legislation provided for the determination of alimony based upon a formula, taking into consideration several factors.  With the veto, the current law remains in place, and alimony is determined based upon many factors and criteria as set out in Florida Statute section 61.08, and not through a set formula.

The proposed legislation would also have changed the starting point of determining a parenting plan for minor children.  It would have allowed for the initial premise that equal time-sharing was in the best interests of the child.   The veto means that the current standard stays in place, i.e. what is in the best interests of the minor child(ren).

In his letter to Florida Secretary of State Kenneth W. Detzner, the Governor stated the following:

“The one constant, though, is that when a divorce involves a minor child, the needs of the child must come before all others.  Current law directs a judge to consider the needs and interests of the children first when determining a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule.  This bill has the potential to upend that policy in favor of putting the wants of a parent before the child’s best interest by creating a premise of equal time sharing.”

He went on to say that the state’s judges

“must consider each family’s unique situation and abilities and put the best interests of the child above all else.”

The Governor did not discuss the proposed modifications to alimony law.  As such, it appears that the alimony modification would have passed had it not been tied to the modification of time-sharing standards.  We shall see if future proposed modifications regarding alimony, and time-sharing for minor children, are presented in separate legislation, and whether the Florida Legislature takes up these issues in their next term.


*Read the Governor’s veto letter here:



Alimony Reform

May 11, 2015 by bjh1

Alimony, also known as spousal support, can be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. For the past two years, the Florida legislature has been trying to reform Florida’s alimony laws. The attempts at reform have been based upon the Court’s current discretionary power to award alimony based upon one party’s need for it, and the other party’s ability to pay. Many argue that the better way to determine alimony issues is through the use of a guidelines formula, just as child support is calculated using a guidelines formula.

The most recent attempt at reforming alimony has failed to pass through the Florida legislature.  It appears this recent failure occurred because of the proposed law having a tie-in with a provision regarding parental time-sharing with children. Currently, time sharing arrangements are based upon the best interests of the children, with no presumption as to what an appropriate percentage of time sharing for each parent should be. The current reform attempt would have provided that a 50/50 time sharing be presumed to be best for the children.

There was also an anticipated problem with how the proposed reform would apply to already resolved cases.   The proposed reform did not have a retroactive provision allowing it to be used as the sole basis to modify already closed cases. It did, however, open the door for the proposed changes to be used as one factor, but not the sole factor, in modifying cases already closed or resolved. This would likely have resulted in many cases being re-opened.

For now, alimony will continue to be addressed by looking at three main questions: (1) the length of the marriage; (2) whether the requesting party needs alimony; and (3) whether the other party has the ability to pay alimony. All the details and questions that go with these three main issues will be considered, and each case dealt with according to its specific circumstances.

It appears that alimony reform is going to occur in Florida. While the Florida legislature has not yet been able to reach agreement on a single version of a bill, there is still much effort being made to change the existing law.

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