Florida is one of only a few states in the country that has laws on the books for what many call “lifetime alimony,” or spousal support payments after a divorce that have no end date. As the Sun Sentinel reports, the state legislature has tried to amend this law four times in the past four years, and 2017 is no different.
The laws were put into place to protect the spouse (historically most often the wife) who left the workforce to care for children. This reduced earning potential and retirement savings, and those opposed to changes in the law still are concerned for the survival of stay-at-home parents in this situation after a divorce.
The current laws in place require the higher-earning spouse to pay spousal support until the ex-husband or -wife has remarried or dies. This lifetime requirement exists regardless of the duration of the marriage. The amount of alimony one spouse is required to pay to the other is left up to the discretion of the judge. The proposed bill would have set a formula for a judge to use to determine the payments and would have made marriages of less than two years require no spousal support at all.
The laws will remain as they are, however, as the Naples Herald reports that the bill died in committee and was never called for a vote. This means that Florida remains under its current spousal support laws, which supporters say protect the lower-earners and opponents say trap everyone in the past, payer and payee alike.