GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS VETOES FLORIDA ALIMONY REFORM BILL 2022

On June 24, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed the Florida Alimony Reform Bill that was presented to him by the Florida Legislature on June 17, 2022.  Governor DeSantis, a Harvard trained attorney and former Special Assistant United States Attorney, vetoed the legislation based upon the fact that it violated Article I, Section 10 of the Florida Constitution.  In his veto letter to Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, Governor DeSantis stated: “If CS/CS/SB1796 were to become law and be given retroactive effect as the Legislature intends, it would unconstitutionally impair vested rights under certain preexisting marital settlement agreements. See art. I, § 10, Fla. Const.”

The Alimony Reform Bill would have had significant ramifications, including the following.

First, under the 2022 Alimony Reform Bill, permanent alimony would have been abolished for all divorce cases pending after July 1, 2022.  As a result of the Governor’s veto, there are now four types of alimony in Florida.  They are bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent alimony.

Second, under the Alimony Reform Bill, in the event that a payor reached the full Social Security retirement age during the time period in which durational alimony was being paid, the payor’s obligation to make durational alimony payments would have been terminated if all of the following conditions were met.  The payor was required to file and serve a notice of retirement 1 year prior to the payor’s retirement date.  If the recipient spouse did not contest the payor’s retirement notice within 20 days, the payor’s obligation to make durational alimony payments ceased.  In the event that the recipient spouse elected to contest the payor’s notice of retirement, the recipient spouse was permitted to contest the payor’s retirement on the following grounds: (i) the recipient spouse’s income would have been less than 130% of the United States poverty guidelines for single-person households; (ii) the recipient spouse would have been unable to meet the recipient spouse’s basic needs, such as food, housing, transportation and utilities; (iii) the parties’ marital settlement agreement prohibited the termination or modification of alimony, or the reduction in alimony violated the provisions in the parties’ marital settlement agreement concerning the basis for modification of alimony; (iv) the recipient spouse was an in-home full-time caregiver to a permanently and fully physically or mentally disabled child of the parties; or (v) the recipient spouse was permanently physically or mentally disabled and was partially or fully unable to be self supporting.

In the event that the recipient spouse contested the payor’s retirement on the basis of the aforementioned five grounds, the trial court was required to then consider the following 5 factors in deciding whether to reduce or terminate the payor’s alimony obligation: (i) the length of the marriage; (ii) the financial resources of the recipient spouse; (iii) the recipient spouse’s sources of income; (iv) the sacrifice of time and leisure required of the payor to continue to provide alimony and the presumption that the payor had a right to retire upon reaching the full retirement age; (v) the health and age of the payor; (vi) the terms contained in the parties’ marital settlement agreement; and (vii) whether the parties agreed to an extended term of alimony or to permanent alimony in exchange for the payor retaining significant marital assets.

In the event that the payor continued to work and earned active gross income that exceeded 50% of the payor’s average active gross income for the 3 years preceding his or her retirement age, alimony could have been extended until the payor’s periodic alimony obligation ceased or until the obligor retired and reduced his or her active gross income below 50% of the payor’s average active gross income for the 3 years preceding his or her retirement age.

In the event that a payor reached full Social Security retirement age prior to the completion of a divorce proceeding, the payor would not have been required to pay alimony unless: (i) the recipient spouse’s income would have been less than 130% of the United States poverty guidelines for single-person households; (ii) the recipient spouse would have been unable to meet the recipient spouse’s basic needs, such as food, housing, transportation and utilities; (iii) the parties’ marital settlement agreement prohibited the termination or modification of alimony, or the reduction in alimony violated the provisions in the parties’ marital settlement agreement concerning the basis for modification of alimony; (iv) the recipient spouse was an in-home full-time caregiver to a permanently and fully physically or mentally disabled child of the parties; or (v) the recipient spouse was permanently physically or mentally disabled and was partially or fully unable to be self supporting.

In the event that the payor continued to work and earn active gross income that exceeded 50% of the payor’s average active gross income for the 3 years preceding his or her retirement age, alimony would have been extended until the payor’s periodic alimony obligation ceased or until the obligor retired and reduced his or her active gross income below 50% of the payor’s average active gross income for the 3 years preceding his or her retirement age.

Third, under the 2022 Alimony Reform Bill alimony would not be awarded for a marriage that was less than 3 years.  The duration of the alimony award would not have been longer than 50% percent of the length of a marriage that lasted 3 to 10 years, 60% of the length of a marriage that lasted 10 to 20 years, and 75% of the length of a marriage that lasted 20 years or more, unless the recipient was either permanently disabled, was unable to provide for the recipient’s support, or was a caregiver to a disabled child.  The amount of alimony could not exceed 35% of the difference between the parties’ net incomes.

Fourth, at the present time, a payor can be ordered to purchase life insurance to secure an award of alimony.  The 2022 Alimony Reform Bill eliminated this requirement and permitted the payee to purchase life insurance on the life of the payor if he or she chose to do so.

Finally, in awarding custody and visitation (“time-sharing’) with the parties’ children, the 2022 Alimony Reform Bill created a presumption that equal time-sharing was in the children’s best interests.

To speak with a West Palm Beach divorce lawyer to discuss alimony in Florida, contact the Lane Law Firm, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.

Contact Information