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Will Alimony Reform Pass in the Florida Legislature in 2020

Moses Dewitt Florida Attorney
Moses Dewitt Florida Attorney

Alimony Reform in Florida—
A Hot Topic in 2020

Will Alimony Reform Pass This time?

Alimony reform has been a controversial topic in the Florida Legislature over the past decade. In 2013, alimony reform was passed in both the Florida House and Senate but was ultimately vetoed by then Gov. Scott. Alimony reform was again presented in 2016, but due to a controversial child custody component, it was also vetoed.

In 2020, alimony reform is back again as House bill 843, HB 843. On Dec. 3, 2019, Rep. Alex Andrade of Gulf Breeze, Florida, filed the latest version of the alimony reform bill. Proponents of alimony reform argue that reform is needed as permanent alimony creates a culture of dependence. They also argue there is no consistency to alimony awards and even judges within the same county rule differently when it comes to alimony. Those who oppose alimony reform believe the current system is working and that a formulaic alimony system may result in unfair awards since a judge would be unable to evaluate the unique circumstances of each case and each marriage. The one thing both sides can agree upon is that alimony reform is an extremely sensitive issue.

HB 843 eliminates permanent alimony, limits the length of alimony to half the length of the marriage, provides a percentage-based system to help calculate alimony, and terminates alimony when the payor reaches the age of retirement. The bill also includes a child custody provision, which provides that there is a presumption for 50-50 custody of minor children. The child custody component may prove problematic as Gov. Scott vetoed the 2016 alimony reform bill because of a similar child custody provision. However, with Gov. DeSantis now in Tallahassee, it is unknown whether such a provision will be vetoed again.

Alimony reform is a complex and sensitive issue. While both sides have strong feelings on the topic, it will be interesting to see how the proposed reform unfolds this year. We will keep you updated as HB 843 makes its way through the legislative session. For ongoing updates, feel free to visit our website at DeWittLaw.com or listen to the “DeWitt Law Review” every Sunday at 10 a.m. on News 96.5 (WDBO-FM).
Moses DeWitt

Further Reading:
What are the Tax Consequences of Alimony in Florida?
New Tax Bill Eliminates Alimony Deduction in Divorces in 2019
Alimony Modification Cases – Proving Voluntary Unemployment/Underemployment
How is alimony calculated in Florida?