If you live in Florida and receive alimony from a previous marriage, you may be concerned after hearing recent news reports that permanent alimony is coming to an end. If you depend upon your alimony or spousal support payments to pay your mortgage or rent, buy groceries, and fund other necessary expenses, a decrease in spousal support could cause significant hardship. Your ex-spouse may use this change in the law as an opportunity to request a reduction in alimony, or even the elimination of alimony altogether. Can you fight against this? What will changes in the law mean for your case? Read on to learn more about some of the potential effects of this new law.
When are you likely to be awarded permanent alimony?
Unlike most states, which often cap alimony at a certain number of years after the marriage has ended, Florida allows for the award of permanent alimony in some cases. Permanent or long-term alimony is most common in situations where one spouse has sacrificed career aspirations or other pursuits to support the other spouse's career -- such as by being a stay-at-home spouse or parent, or working to pay for the other spouse's advanced schooling. Permanent alimony may also be awarded during a late-in-life divorce, when the odds of being able to reestablish a career and save for retirement may be fairly low.
Will this change in the law affect your alimony?
Florida lawmakers are proposing some changes -- these changes could cap alimony payments at 55 percent of the payor's income, and could limit these payments to no more than 75 percent of the length of the marriage. For those receiving substantial amounts of permanent alimony, such a reduction could have a tremendous impact on household finances. However, if your case has already been finalized, it's unlikely your ex-spouse will be able to appeal his or her alimony payment and have this payment reduced unless he or she has suffered a significant setback in income or a disability that prevents him or her from making alimony payments as scheduled. Although these laws will govern divorces and alimony determinations going forward, litigants seeking a retroactive reduction in alimony benefits following a change in the law will likely find themselves out of luck.
As a safeguard, you'll want to have good records of each alimony payment and how these payments are spent, so that you can show the court (upon request) that your alimony income is going directly to support your living expenses. You can also talk to your family law attorney for more information on how to handle these changes.