Last week, lawmakers sent legislation to the Governor that binds together alimony reform with a new formula for determining child timesharing arrangements. Senate Bill 668 would alter the manner in which alimony is decided in Florida. It provides for a formula for alimony payments based on the amount of income earned by each spouse and the length of the marriage. Judges could no longer grant lifetime alimony payments. Opponents have argued that the alimony changes are essentially an assault on women who make up 97% of recipients in Florida.
One of the more controversial parts of the legislation would allow alimony agreements to be renegotiated if the recipient’s income rises by 10%. Under the new legislation, there would be a “premise” that divorced parents would spend equal amounts of time parenting their children. This would occur unless a judge decides to make an adjustment by weighing 15 factors already outlined in state law, including concerns about a parent’s mental and physical health or moral fitness. Opponents of the timesharing aspects of the bill argue that the changes focus more on the parents than on the children’s best interests.1
According to the Tampa Bay Times, this year’s legislation is more tempered than previous versions. It is not retroactive when dealing with children, but unclear about the impact on existing alimony payments.2
1 Auslen, M. March 8, 2016. “Florida senate passes changes to alimony law” Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/florida-senate-passes-changes-to-alimony-law/2268012.