Permanent Alimony in a Divorces in Florida

Presently there are several forms of alimony : temporary – designed to take care of the needs of the non-income earning spouse until the divorce is final; bridge the gap – designed to help a short term marriage  (less than 7 years) spouse transition from marriage to being single; rehabilitative – designed to have the non-working spouse re-enter the work force and involves a specific plan for education;  durational- alimony for marriages between 7 to 17 years and cannot be longer than the marriage designed to compensate the non-working spouse but not forever; permanent- designed for long term  marriages to support the non-working spouse for their lifetime.

The Florida legislature is considering a bill that will eliminate permanent alimony for everyone regardless of the circumstances.  The proposed legislation eliminates the current designations for short term marriages (up to seven years); moderate term marriages (seven to 17 years); long term marriages (more than 17 years) and instead establishes two formulas for determining the lower and upper ranges of  alimony payments and for the duration of alimony.  Marriages over 20 years will be entitled to the upper range of the formula and those marriages with less than 20 years would be at the lower end of the formula.  There will be a presumption that marriages up to two years would not result in any alimony.  In addition, the bill eliminates permanent alimony.  In the cases where alimony is awarded, the duration of the alimony would be between one quarter to three fourths the length of the marriage.

These revisions to the current law currently would apply to all petitions pending on October 1, 2015. The bill has not passed but the take away here is that law is going to require everyone to support themselves at some point regardless of the lifestyle during the marriage.  Therefore, if you are married and not working, it might be time to go back to work to increase your earning potential even if your spouse is encouraging you to stay home.  The law is not going to hold it against the spouse for telling you to stay home, while they go to work, increase their earning potential while yours goes down. On the other hand, no credit is given to the stay at home spouse for their sacrifice.

The alimony reform movement is understandable in cases where certain spouses perfectly capable of working refuse to do so but at the same time the law fails to recognize that many people stay home to care for their children sacrificing their earning potential.   Nannies and care givers are quite costly.  The new law does not take into account the increased cost for child care that will be required when both spouses are working. Therefore, a parent being encouraged to stay home by the other spouse might consider entering into a pre or post-nuptial agreement regarding alimony to protect themselves in the event of a divorce.  Otherwise, a newly divorced individual may be looking at starting over at a later stage in life when they have less options and less earning potential.