A Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill that would end what is known as “permanent alimony” in the state.
Gayle Harrell, a first-term state senator from Stuart, Florida, is sponsoring a bill that would overhaul how alimony is awarded. There is no companion bill in the state House of Representative so far, and her proposal has not been given to a committee for review.
Still, it puts the topic back on the radar in Florida, where lawmakers have wrangled over the past few years with ways to toughen the standards under which alimony is granted. Previous measures have failed, and a renewed effort is likely to spark a new battle.
Typically in Florida, one side argues that paying alimony with no set end date isn’t fair to the person paying it. The other side argues that putting a time limit on how long a spouse who left the workforce to care for the family, for example, isn’t fair to the recipient who has far less earning power.
In 2016, the sides argued in the halls of the Capitol building about the topic. In 2013, then-Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have modified alimony rules and said it changed the “settled economic expectations of many Floridians who have experienced divorce.”
The summary of Harrell’s proposal states the bill would provide “for the priority of bridge-the-gap alimony, followed by rehabilitative alimony, over any other form; requiring a court to make written findings regarding the basis for awarding a combination of forms of alimony, including the type of alimony and length of time for which it is awarded; providing that the party seeking alimony has the burden of proof of demonstrating a need for alimony and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony, etc.”
It isn’t a sure thing that this bill ever will make it to debate in the Florida Legislature. Still, family law attorneys and others will be watching to stay abreast of developments.