In mid-January, Florida State Rep. Colleen Burton announced that she had filed a bill attempting to overhaul the state’s current alimony statute.
In announcing her decision to challenge the existing law, Burton cited the need to toughen the standards surrounding how alimony is granted and changed. Last year, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the alimony measure that attempted to overhaul the existing law.
Unlike last year’s legislation, the new bill – HB 283 – lacks the child custody provisions that Scott cited in his decision to veto. According to Scott, the overhaul was not ratified because it failed to consider the best interest of the child. Scott specifically pointed to the fact that the measure would create an idea of legal time-sharing.
However, Burton’s maintains that an overhaul is “the right thing to do” because existing law does not provide judges with a starting point for determining alimony. Instead, Burton argues in the 26-page bill, that judges should consider, among other things, a former spouse’s role in homemaking, education, childcare and career building for the other spouse when determining alimony awards.
Alimony Laws in Florida
Alimony refers to financial payments made by one spouse to another spouse after settling divorce. Typically, courts require the higher earning spouse – whether that is the wife or the husband – to assist the less financially capable spouse in maintaining the marital lifestyle.
In Florida, there are five different types of alimony. Some of which last only for a period of time, while others may extend well into the future:
Before a judge rules on an alimony award, there are a number of factors that must first be considered, including the financial resources for the spouse seeking alimony. This includes any separate property and all sources of income, including income stemming from investments. Judges will also consider the marital standard of living and length of the marriage, as well as a host of other factors.
Depending on the circumstances, a judge may elect to award different types of alimony, sometimes in combination should it be ruled fair. In many cases, these payments are made on a month basis. However, they can be made in a single lump sum, though that is far less common.
If you or someone you know are dealing with issues stemming from divorce, including disputes over alimony, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. Only an attorney specializing in family law and divorce can assess your current situation and determine the best strategy for protecting your interests, both now and into the future.
If you need recommendations for a collaboratively trained attorney in the Sarasota area, please let us know. We can provide a list of qualified attorneys willing to help.