Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill that brings significant changes to the state’s alimony laws, putting an end to permanent alimony. This move comes after three previous vetoes of similar bills and years of emotional debates surrounding the issue.
Bill Eliminating Permanent Alimony
The bill, known as SB 1416, aims to eliminate permanent alimony and establish a formula for determining alimony amounts based on the duration of the marriage.
The bill also introduces a five-year limit on rehabilitative alimony and imposes eligibility criteria based on the duration of the marriage.
Couples married for less than three years will not be eligible for permanent alimony payments, while those married for 20 years or longer can receive payments for up to 75 percent of the marriage’s duration.
In addition to abolishing permanent alimony, the new law establishes a process for alimony payers to seek modifications when they want to retire. Judges will consider various factors, including the payer’s age, health, retirement age, economic impact on the recipient, and motivation for retirement.
This provision aims to address concerns raised by those who argued that permanent alimony payments were preventing them from retiring as planned.
The governor’s approval has sparked a wave of protests from members of the “First Wives Advocacy Group,” a coalition mainly composed of older women who rely on permanent alimony payments, CBS News reported.
They argue that their lives will be severely impacted without financial support. Jan Killilea, the 63-year-old founder of the group, expressed disappointment and criticized the governor, stating that this decision undermines the institution of marriage in Florida.
Supporters and Critics of Eliminating Permanent Alimony
The debate over permanent alimony has been a highly contentious issue, with emotional testimonies from both supporters and opponents. Advocates for eliminating permanent alimony argue that it forces individuals to work longer than desired to fulfill their alimony obligations.
On the other hand, those in favor of maintaining permanent alimony assert that it provides necessary financial stability for divorced spouses, particularly older women.
Michael Buhler, the chairman of Florida Family Fairness, an organization advocating for the end of permanent alimony, praised the bill’s approval. He emphasized that the clarity brought by the new law and the termination of permanent alimony will benefit Florida families.
Despite the governor’s decision to sign the bill, opposition to the new law remains strong.
Critics argue that the provision allowing permanent alimony payers to seek modifications based on the existence of a supportive relationship is vague and could be misinterpreted. They worry that temporary roommates who assist alimony recipients with living expenses for short periods of time could inadvertently trigger legal complications.