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Florida's alimony law could be revamped

Lawmakers are considering a proposal to end permanent alimony payments unless both parties agree to it. It would also create a presumption that 50/50 time-sharing of children would be in the best interest of the child.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is considering a bill that would allow many people to stop paying alimony after they retire.

After years of legislative battles about the issue, Gov. Ron DeSantis faces a decision about whether to approve revamping the state’s alimony laws.

The Legislature on Friday sent a contentious alimony bill (SB 1796) to DeSantis, along with numerous other bills that passed during the legislative session that ended in March. Former Gov. Rick Scott twice vetoed proposed alimony overhauls.

One of the most-controversial parts of this year’s bill would change the process for modification of alimony when people who have been paying seek to retire. Ex-spouses who pay would have to give one year’s notice indicating they intend to retire and could stop payments upon retirement, except under certain circumstances.

Critics argued the plan could impoverish ex-spouses who have been homemakers and are dependent on the payments.

The bill, approved by the Senate in a 21-16 vote and by the House in a 74-42 vote, also would do away with permanent alimony and set maximum durations of payments.

Spouses who have been married for less than three years would not be eligible for alimony, and those who have been married 20 years or longer would be eligible to receive payments for up to 75% of the length of the marriage.

Another part of the bill would require judges to begin with a “presumption” that children should split their time equally between parents. Scott largely pinned his 2016 veto of an alimony bill on a similar child-sharing provision.