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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Overhauls Alimony Laws

In a significant move that has been years in the making, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a measure that will bring about significant changes to the state’s alimony laws. The newly approved measure, known as SB 1416, eliminates permanent alimony and introduces a formula-based approach to determine alimony amounts based on the length of the marriage.

The elimination of permanent alimony has been a contentious issue that sparked emotional clashes and tearful testimonies from both sides. Proponents of the reform, such as the organization Florida Family Fairness, applaud the move, asserting that it provides a clearer framework and safeguards the right to retire for existing alimony payers. They argue that ending permanent alimony is a step forward for Florida families.

However, critics, including the First Wives Advocacy Group, express disappointment with Governor DeSantis’s decision, believing that older women will face financial devastation without the safety net of permanent alimony. Jan Killilea, the group’s founder, asserts that this reform undermines the institution of marriage in Florida and accuses the governor of disregarding the well-being of thousands of women who depend on permanent alimony.

One major concern surrounding the overhaul is its potential retroactive effect on existing permanent alimony agreements. In his veto of the 2022 version of the bill, DeSantis highlighted the possibility that it would unconstitutionally impair vested rights under pre-existing marital settlement agreements. However, this year’s bill sponsor, Senator Joe Gruters, reassured lawmakers that the 2023 version would not retroactively impact existing alimony settlements.

The newly approved measure also introduces a five-year limit on rehabilitative alimony and establishes eligibility criteria based on the duration of the marriage. Individuals married less than three years will not be eligible for alimony payments, while those married for 20 years or longer can receive payments for up to 75 percent of the marriage’s duration. Critics argue that certain provisions, such as the vague definition of a “supportive relationship,” may lead to unintended consequences and legal ambiguity.

Governor Ron DeSantis’s signing of the alimony reform bill in Florida marks a significant shift in the state’s legal landscape. While supporters celebrate the end of permanent alimony and the clarification it brings, opponents, particularly those who may come to rely on these payments for long-term living needs, express deep disappointment and concerns about future financial impact. The impact of this overhaul remains to be seen, and as with any major legal reform there will likely be ongoing debates and discussions surrounding its consequences for families in Florida.