What a Proposed Reform Bill Could Mean for Floridians With Existing Alimony Judgments, According to Florida Divorce Lawyer Vanessa Vasquez de Lara

Industry: Legal Services

An alimony reform bill will be considered again during this year’s legislative session in Florida after three similar bills have failed to pass over the past decade. Vanessa Vasquez de Lara—a Miami divorce lawyer and owner and founder of Vasquez de Lara Law Group—said the bill’s impact could be on more than just alimony judgments moving forward.

Miami, FL (PRUnderground) April 27th, 2023

“If the bill becomes law, it may mean many people with existing alimony orders could be headed to court for modifications.”

Florida House Bill 1409 passed through the House’s Civil Justice Committee this past week, according to The Florida Bar, and it now only has to clear the Judiciary Committee before being heard on the House floor. The bill aims to reform the current alimony laws in the Sunshine State.

A Decade of Failed Alimony Reform in Florida

This isn’t the first time an alimony reform bill has crossed the desk of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or his predecessor, former Gov. Rick Scott. In fact, the current alimony bill being proposed is the fourth one in the past 10 years, continuing a long history of debate in Florida concerning updating the state’s alimony laws.

Last year, Gov. Desantis vetoed a controversial alimony bill, stating that the retroactive nature of the bill was unconstitutional. In both 2013 and 2016, Gov. Scott vetoed similar bills. He vetoed one due to similar concerns regarding its mandatory retroactive application. The other he vetoed due to his objections over terms outlining time-sharing presumptions.

“It’s clear that both the former and current Florida governors take alimony reform very seriously,” Vasquez de Lara said. “The new bill will have to ease those same concerns if Desantis is to sign the legislation into law.”

Are Lawmakers Unifying on New Bill Language?

The Florida Bar says the proposed alimony bill has created more unity among lawmakers. The bill’s sponsor, Rep John Paul Temple, says lawmakers have been in agreement so far since the previously controversial topics are not included. For example, he said the bill’s language does not require judges to act retroactively on existing alimony orders and does not include presumed child time-sharing.

However, some have contradicted Temple’s statements about the supposedly removed controversial items. For example, former family law judge Robert Doyel pointed out that the bill’s vague language indicates it may be applied retroactively.

Changes Proposed in the New Florida Alimony Reform Bill

Addressing the Issue of Retirement for Alimony Payers

One primary measure in HB 1409 concerns retirement as a life and income change for those making alimony payments. It would allow alimony payers to take their ex-spouses back to court when they retire to attempt modifications to their existing alimony orders.

“Current Florida law requires the paying party to continue making alimony payments even into retirement. If the new bill were to pass, it would allow for modifications to be made once the payer retires, based on their reduced income,” Vasquez de Lara noted.

A judge would examine several factors in each Florida alimony case before terminating or reducing payments. These factors include the payer’s age, health, and motivation for retirement, as well as the severity of the economic impact the modification would have on the recipient spouse.

Getting Rid of Permanent Alimony

The biggest change to alimony laws proposed, however, is arguably the elimination of permanent alimony. This type of alimony is typically ordered in divorce cases where the couple is in a long-term marriage and is awarded until either the receiving spouse gets remarried or one of the spouses dies.

“If the bill passes, only durational alimony would be available to receiving spouses, which specifies a set timeframe for payments. This could mean the official end to permanent alimony moving forward in Florida,” Vasquez de Lara said.

Vasquez de Lara Law Group is located at 7700 N. Kendall Dr., Suite 607, Miami, FL 33156.

About Vasquez de Lara Law Group

Vasquez de Lara Law Group is a Florida law firm with an experienced team of Miami family law attorneys. Serving areas like Aventura, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Miami Beach, and other areas of South Florida, the law firm handles a range of family law practice areas, including divorce, mediation, child custody, paternity, and alimony.
Book a free consultation with a highly-rated Miami divorce lawyer at Vasquez de Lara Law Group. The law office is located at 7700 N Kendall Dr. Suite 607, Miami, FL 33156.

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