House Bill 549 proposed by Representative Ritch Workman R-Melbourne looks to completely overhaul Florida’s alimony laws as was recently reported in the Orlando Sentinel. What are some of the changes? First, consideration of adultery would be removed from consideration, which was a point of recent discussion in our weekly blog here. Second, the proposed bill has several caps in place regarding the amount of alimony that can be awarded to any individual who is looking to obtain alimony. Third, the proposed bill would allow for all previous divorce agreements to be reopened and renegotiated at any future date and time without showing the now required and difficult to show “substantial, unanticipated, change in circumstances” standard. There are additional changes as well.
Why all the proposed changes? Well, at least to be considered is the fact that Representative Workman had filed for his own divorce only 8 days prior to when House Bill 549 was proposed. Additionally, several other local legislators who had filed for or were in the process of their own respect divorce proceedings. While, admittedly, there is no conclusive evidence to point to the fact that the bill’s proposal and recent events have any link, the Orlando Sentinel article interviewed several attorneys who all commented on the content of the bill. There was consensus, detailed in the article and agreed upon by myself, on the fact that the proposed caps on alimony, including one which held that no alimony “award” could be more than “20 percent of the payor’s monthly income…averaged over the last three years”, were suspect, if not unconstitutional. When reached for comment on the proposed bill Representative Workman was quick to admit that he would make revisions to the proposed bill as it was really a draft and that “A cap was a bad idea, if I had thought through it, I would have realized that.” It is clear that this bill is still in its beginning stages and that it still needs to overcome significant hurdles before it is accepted as a law in the state of Florida but, its implications are sweeping to say the least.
Florida laws regarding divorce and aspects that are involved in the divorce process are clearly still changing today as our community and those involved in it begin to change and respond to the times. It can be a confusing path to try to navigate without a dedicated Orlando divorce attorney at your side who stays informed of the potential changes to the law and what the implications may be.