Alimony Reform Bill Dies in Senate

The alimony reform bill that was supported by both sides of the aisle, as well as advocacy groups across the state, died in the state Senate after legislators failed to agree on a single provision in the bill. Many are disappointed by this outcome, and two senators are publicly blaming each other for the bill’s failure. The new law would have drastically reformed alimony in Florida and done away with many of the current provisions in the state law.

Proposed Alimony Reform Bill

Known as House Bill 943 (HB 943), the proposed alimony reform bill would have made a number of significant changes to existing family law. The biggest change would have been the elimination of bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent alimony in addition to also eliminating the need to label the marriage as short, moderate, or long-term. The bill provided a table and guidelines for a judge to use to determine the proper amount of full alimony, which would replace the other types of spousal support.

In addition, the bill would cap alimony and child support payments to 55% of the payor’s net income and would allow evidence to be presented of the payor’s new spouse’s income as a modification of the award. Spousal support could also be modified or terminated when the payor retires. Finally, it presumed a 50/50 split in time for child custody, unless proven otherwise in court.

Failure of the Bill

The alimony reform bill died when the state Senate refused to adopt the House’s passage of the bill. Tom Lee, the Senate Appropriations Chairman, took issue with the 50/50 child custody provision in the law. He claimed that the language was poorly drafted and did not go as far as he wanted, so he refused to put the bill up for a vote. The Senate did not consider the measure and the House of Representatives adjourned three days early. As a result, the bill died in the judiciary.

Other legislators in the state claim that Senator Lee had a personal grudge against the provision because of his own contentious divorce. House Rules Chairman Rich Workman accused him of being a bully and attempting to hijack the bill for his own purposes. “We’ve been trying to give him language but he won’t budge. The only person refusing to negotiate and come off a rigid position is Tom Lee. And that individual is going to kill a bill out of spite because he didn’t get his way. Literally picking up his toys and stomping out of the sandbox and running back with tears and snot in his nose because he didn’t want to share his toys in the sandbox.”

Contact Our Office Today

At Stok Kon + Braverman, we help our clients in the Fort Lauderdale area work through all of the issues of a divorce, including considerations for alimony. Call the office or contact us today for a free and private review of your case.