On April 4, the Florida Senate voted 29-11 in favor of Senate Bill 718, which is also known as the alimony reform bill. 

Bill 718 eliminates permanent alimony, which requires one spouse, usually the male, to pay alimony for the rest of his life.  Permanent alimony was instituted years ago when the husband was the money maker of the family, and the wife stayed home to raise the children.  In the majority of modern marriages, both spouses work and, thus, in the event of a divorce, have  means of support other than alimony.

According to an article on yahoo.com, the bill “replaces permanent alimony with bridge-the gap, rehabilitative, or durational alimony to consistently ensure swift resolution for families.”

With the passing of the bill, the former spouse must prove they have a need for alimony and must also prove the obligor has the ability to pay alimony, as well.

Senate Bill 718 was sponsored by Senator Kelli Stargel because she felt the state needed a fair way to deal with this emotional issue.  “This bill creates guidelines for our judges to follow, but maintains judicial discretion,” Senator Stargel said.

A not for profit organization, Family Law Reform, fought for passage of the bill.  Alan Frisher, co-founder and president of the organization, said that while the bill is not perfect, it is fair and equitable and updates Florida’s antiquated alimony laws.

House Bill 231, which is  companion legislation to Senate Bill 718, will go to the House for a full vote next week.