In most states, including Florida, a number of factors are taken into consideration when determining alimony. One type of spousal support that has become a topic of some controversy in our state is permanent alimony, which may require the paying spouse to continue supporting his or her ex for life. While this form of spousal support is merited in some situations, it can cause a variety of issues for most paying spouses while the payee reaps all the benefits. Currently, the Florida Alimony Reform Group is spearheading an effort to get the alimony laws changed.
The group believes that permanent spousal support works if the former spouse is incapable of caring for him- or herself, such as in the case of disability. However, in many situations, former spouses are receiving large alimony payments when they are perfectly capable of being financially independent. This is because of archaic laws that were legislated at a time when women were mainly housewives who were dependent on their husbands. The reform group would like to get the laws changed so that alimony is only paid out for half the length of the marriage.
Under the current law in Florida, the spouse receiving alimony can petition for a modification if the paying spouse gets remarried. This bump in payment would come out of the new spouse's income. Because of this, some engaged couples are waiting to get married until the laws are reformed.
The current alimony laws are advantageous to the payees, some of whom get a considerable sum until either they or the paying spouse dies. Since marriage means an end to the payments, many payees refuse to remarry. Additionally, if they collect Social Security, they can petition for a portion of their former spouse's Social Security payment on top of their own benefits and alimony.
The state legislature is expected to vote on an alimony reform bill within a few months. The reform group is confident that the alimony laws will be changed. For the time being, Florida residents who need to make changes to their spousal support arrangements may find it beneficial to consult with someone who is knowledgeable in family law in order to work out a modification that fits their current needs.
Source: U.S. News and World Report, "It's Sad How Many Divorcees Are Sentenced To A Lifetime Of Alimony Payments," Geoff Williams, Jan. 28, 2013