There has been an effort by some Florida state legislators to get rid of “permanent” alimony for years now. It’s been successful in the House but not the Senate. A bill to do so is once again making its way through the House during the current session, and once again, it’s stirring up some strong feelings.
The legislation would prohibit judges from awarding spouses with permanent alimony. However, spouses can agree to it on their own.
Is it “welfare” or “taking care of your family”?
Some of those who support banning court-ordered permanent alimony have referred to it as “welfare.” One representative from Escambia County said, “Welfare is financial support given to people in need, period. That’s what welfare is. That’s what alimony is.”
Those who are against ending the option of court-ordered permanent alimony argue that it may be needed by those who have been stay-at-home parents. One Tampa lawmaker said, “I call it taking care of your family — of that woman that you kept having children with, that stayed home and took care of them, and never had an opportunity to further her education.”
A presumption of 50/50 parenting time is also part of the debate
Another aspect of the bill that has caused debate is the presumption that a 50-50 child custody split is best for children. Some think it shouldn’t be part of the bill. Others say it’s putting the government in the middle of how parents raise their children.
Another issue is that the legislation as currently drafted would repeal any current permanent alimony that was ordered by a judge. These orders would need to be modified to durational, rehabilitative or bridge-the-gap alimony.
The debate, like so many these days, seems to be along party lines. It also brings up questions of how much authority legislators should have over the options available to those in the judiciary. It remains to be seen what the Senate will do when the legislation gets to them. In the meantime, it’s crucial to understand Florida family law as it applies to your divorce.