It’s AhAhAlimony Reform Season in Florida

Cindy S. Vova's Divorce Legal Blogs

Licensed for 33 years

Attorney in Plantation, FL

Cindy S. Vova

Credit cards accepted, Fixed hourly rates

Serving Plantation, FL

  • Serving Plantation, FL

  • Credit cards accepted, Fixed hourly rates

Principal at firm Law Offices of Cindy S. Vova, P.A.

Serving Plantation, FL

Credit cards accepted, Fixed hourly rates

Awards AV Preeminent

    Ah, it’s that time of year…again.  Yes, the Spring Equinox arrives this Friday, March 10th, and one of the tabebuia trees in my neighborhood has begun to bloom into a venerable yellow wonderland, marking the beginning of Spring in South Florida….which to me is only a brief moment of visual relief before the four months of the unending four plus month sweat fest, that others call summer, begins.

      But today, March 7, 2017, begins another Florida tradition…the beginning of this year’s legislative session and with it, what has become another rite of spring, the latest versions of our state’s ALIMONY REFORM BILLS.

      So what do our fine legislators envision for the future divorcing population of Florida?  Well, first of all, if any alimony reform bill passes, it may not only apply to the “future” divorcing population, but those currently in the throes of the divorce process.  If the House or Senate bills stay close to their current forms, then it the ultimate law, if passed, will apply to any divorce pending as of October 1, 2017.  “But that’s seven months off,” you observe.  Yes, but if this bill builds up steam, then you can bet some people who  envision that he/she will get a better deal under the new bill will do all in their power (or at least their lawyers will) to delay the finality of their case past that date. 

       But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s recap what happened to alimony reform during the last four legislative sessions:

                -2013     In the 11th hour (literally) the bill that both the House and Senate pass is vetoed by  Governor Scott (retroactivity issue)

                -2014     No alimony reform legislation is proposed….after all, it’s an election year and passing                                 alimony reform is going to ANNOY half of the legislators’ voting base

                  -2015     Bills proposed in both the House and Senate with ranges as to duration and  ranges and  amounts      alimony- in other words some guidelines.  However,  the House and Senate got a little held up when they were unable to negotiate one thing they are require to pass- the state budget.  So, in an act reminiscent of a poor sport losing a baseball  game, the House first, and then the Senate, ended their legislative sessions early, took their balls and bats and went home.  Although they ultimately reconvened to get that budget passed, alimony reform was lost for that year.

                   -2016     The bills looked strikingly similar to those proposed in 2015.  However, in a brilliant move, the bills under consideration decided that 50/50 timesharing of children should  be presumed in every divorce and this provision should be included in the alimony reform statute Ultimately, the bill was vetoed because, let’s just  say they were trying to kill two Bills with one stone.

                    -2017     Hey, deja vu all over again!  Except, this year timesharing has been left where it belongs…in other sections of the statutes… and the House and Senate bills address alimony! Amazing. 

                                The highlights of the latest incarnation include                                                                                  :

                                         -a presumption of alimony in marriages over 2 years

                                         -guidelines in the form of a range for the duration of the alimony and the                                                                                       amount

                                         -a list of 14 factors to guide the court in determining the duration and  range

                                         -modification on retirement (Wee Hee!)

                                          – and clarifying that modification when the alimony recipient has a “substantial                                                    supportive relationship” does not require cohabitation

           So there you have it.  I won’t go into any specifics until I see how these bills are progressing.  I mean I’ve done this three times already for naught.  But I’m watching the bills for any changes. Yes, this is what I do in my free time.  So keep a look out for updates.

           In the mean time.  today also happens to be National Cereal Day.  Quite coincidentally, according to radio station Y-100, the most popular cereal is Honey Nut Cheerios.  Now, given the contents of this blog and the nature of my family law practice, I find that quite humorous.  If you have to think too hard you’re either not a family law attorney or you’ve never been married, let alone divorced.

                So enjoy a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios under the shade of a blooming tabebuia tree and, if you’re thinking about divorce, now may be the time to speak with a family law attorney.  If you’re not thinking about divorce, just enjoy your cereal.

Cindy Vova

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