Florida is one of a handful of states that allows permanent lifetime alimony that does not end at retirement, but only ceases upon death or remarriage of the recipient. This law can have devastating consequences for the former spouse who has to pay out this permanent alimony.
Florida Alimony Reform (FAR) is America’s largest alimony reform group and represents more than 2,000 families across the state that, according to the group, are being crippled by Florida’s alimony laws.
During the 2012 legislative session, FAR proposed an overhaul of Florida’s alimony laws, which in FAR’s opinion, are outdated and antiquated. Alan Frisher, Divorce Financial Analyst and Co-Director of Florida Alimony Reform, stated that the chances for reform had looked encouraging, but then took a turn for the worse, when the Senate sponsor for alimony reform did not adopt the House Bill and also did not present a Senate version of the bill that allowed for any significant change from current law.
Frisher stated that current Florida alimony law is harmful to many families and taxpayers, with ultimate financial benefit not going to the alimony payer, but instead to Family Law attorneys who represent their clients in court. He also added that numerous articles have been published that relate how permanent alimony has adversely affected families for generations.
The revisions to the alimony law that FAR is requesting reflects changing social and demographic patterns, as well as the the toll the economic slump has brought to this country.
Two issues at the center of the alimony debate are the amount of discretion judges throughout the state have in each case, and the fact that Florida is one of only a few states in the entire country that grant permanent alimony.
Supporters of the current alimony law say that current laws are progressive and that, according to Florida Bar Family Section Chairman David Manz, “we’ve changed substantially in two years, and are continuing to do so.”
Panama City Family Attorney Gerard Virga said that “the government isn’t going to do anything that’s going to make them pay more money in social welfare programs, so they have an interest honestly, the state does, in maintaining a form of alimony.”
FAR is already working on another reform bill for the next legislative session and hoping for a better outcome in 2013.