Alimony revamp off table this year

alimony fight
The Senate sponsor says its dead.

A proposed revamp of the state’s alimony laws is off the table for the 2020 Legislative Session, according to the Senate sponsor of the proposal.

While a similar House bill (HB 843) has been approved by two committees and is scheduled to go before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Sen. Kelli Stargel’s measure (SB 1832) never made it out of its first committee in the Senate.

“So at this point in the process, it would be near impossible to get that done this year. We’ll keep working on it for next year,” Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, told The News Service of Florida on Tuesday.

The proposals would create a formula for judges to use when setting alimony payments and do away with “permanent,” or lifetime, alimony.

The Florida Legislature has taken up proposals to revise or replace permanent alimony almost annually for several years. The last overhaul of the state’s alimony laws came in 2010. They were tweaked in 2011.

The 2020 effort would prioritize durational, or “bridge-the-gap,” alimony over long-term alimony and set a cap at half of the length of a couple’s marriage.

Reform backers say the current system creates a “culture of dependence” for those receiving it and a “life sentence” for payers. They claim the need for reform stems from the existence of “permanent alimony,” something that the Family Section of the Florida Bar says does not exist.

The proposal would also set equal time-sharing for parents as the standard for courts.

The Family Section of the Florida Bar has been the major force opposing the bill, with Chair Amy Hamlin asserting that “permanent alimony” doesn’t exist. The group also argues the time-sharing provision is a one-size-fits-all standard that doesn’t fit many families.

The contentious dialogue surrounding the reform bills is nothing new. Past efforts have drawn heated debate in the Legislature and among interest groups on both sides. Still, the Legislature has passed alimony bills in recent years only for them to die on the Governor’s desk. 

Former Gov. Rick Scott, who is now a U.S. Senator, twice vetoed alimony proposals.

In his second veto in 2016, Scott blamed an even more-contentious child custody component included in that year’s version. In 2013, Scott vetoed a different version, objecting that alimony changes could have applied retroactively.

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Reporters Scott Powers and Drew Wilson contributed to this post. Republished with permission.

News Service Of Florida

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.


6 comments

  • Janice Kelder

    February 25, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    The need for reform is long overdue, and if there is a will there is a way. There are still three weeks of the session to facilitate the high-quality bill that was sponsored in the House, HB 843.

    Going from 4 to 3 types of alimony is not a radical idea. Allowing for families to heal and move forward with their lives is the right thing to do. Keep fighting Sen Stargel!!

  • Tina Murphy

    February 25, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    Only two bills have been signed and six engrossed. There is still time to pass meaningful legislation that effects hundreds of thousands of Floridians and their families. The next three weeks will be moving a break-neck speed.

    The hanky hasn’t dropped yet!

    • Sandra Stevens

      February 25, 2020 at 4:52 pm

      I think if the Senate sponsor says it’s dead, it’s dead. Let it rest in peace

      • Francis Brunski

        February 25, 2020 at 5:13 pm

        She never said it was dead, she said it is unlikely. Stranger things have happened.

        Also, the current statutes days are numbered. If you do not believe in the Resurrection, Sandra, you will be made a believer.

  • Patrick Brady

    February 25, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    This is really an injustice. Can it be true that Ms. Hamlin cares more about Florida’s families than everyone else? I am not buying it.

    Her facts are totally incorrect. First, the words “permanent alimony” are clearly found in Chapter 61 of the Florida statutes. She claims it can be modified . . . if you go back to court and spend tens of thousands of dollars, with no guaranteed outcome. Most regular folks cannot do this. It reminds me of Mitt Romney’s $10,000 bet during the Republican Primary debate. How out of touch. Since the words are in there, why oppose removing them and going from 4 types of alimony to 3 types?

    Next, the 50-50 time sharing rule can be altered if the parties agree. It is not imposed. If it is contested, we start at the 50-50 premise and the parties must demonstrate why this would not be in the best interest of the children. This bill is common sense, the controversy should be about the injustice of current law.

  • Alina Bolero

    February 26, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    Lovely. I wonder how many people, not seeing an end in sight for the their indentured servitude, will commit suicide this year.

Comments are closed.


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