In Florida permanent alimony – the kind that is paid every month until the recipient remarries or one you dies – is once again being changed by the Florida Legislature. For the past decade there has been a legal presumption that permanent alimony is the proper type to award after a long term marriage. Even before the 2010 changes, this was the way alimony awards worked in Florida. Now we have additional changes that take effect on July 1, 2011.
Permanent Alimony Changes
In 2010 the Legislature got involved and tinkered with the alimony law. At that time, the Florida legislature wrote into the law most of the terms that the court decisions had required. I used to call them the unwritten rules of Florida alimony. Then this last legislative session involved even bigger changes to Florida Statute 61.08, the Florida alimony law, especially for Florida permanent alimony. Starting on July 1, 2011, the court must make a finding when it awards permanent alimony that no other type of alimony is “fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the parties.”
Also inserted is a requirement that when Florida permanent alimony is awarded after a moderate term marriage, there must be clear and convincing evidence that permanent alimony is appropriate type of alimony to award.
The third change is that an award of Florida permanent alimony cannot leave the payor spouse with significantly less net income than that of the receiving spouse, unless there are exceptional circumstances. I agree that this change makes sense and was necessary.
Permanent Alimony and the 2011 Changes
I also believe that the impact of these changes continue the trend of devaluing “women’s work” of being a stay at home mother. Make no mistake about it, there is an organized movement afoot in our state that wants to see Florida permanent alimony totally abolished.
I believe that the requirement that the judge make a written determination that no other type of alimony is fair and reasonable sends a message to judges that they should limit awards of permanent alimony. This is likely to make judges reluctant to award Florida permanent alimony after the changes go into effect on July 1, 2011.
What do you think about this change to the Florida permanent alimony laws?