For decades, the jurisdictions across the United States have been relatively similar in terms of the laws that governed alimony payments made by one spouse to another after divorce. Some jurisdictions refer to these payments as spousal support, but in reality the major differences basically end there. These payments are made by a spouse because the other person is generally in a position where he or she cannot live at the same general standard as when the people were married, and these laws were enacted to protect those spouses from financial ruin and struggle.
However, state legislatures have been reviewing these laws around the country, and Massachusetts recently became the first state to enact sweeping alimony reform. The state enacted a law that placed a cap on the duration of payments and put other changes in place that were designed to avoid having one spouse provide alimony on a permanent basis. Since then, approximately 20 other states have at least begun to look at reforming their alimony laws, and the latest to do so in a tangible way is Florida, which is considering many of the same changes that were enacted in Massachusetts.
Specifically, the proposed legislation would limit the duration of these alimony payments to one-half of the duration of the marriage. Therefore, if a couple was married for 20 years and alimony was ordered during the divorce, those payments would end after 10 years of payments. The new law would also impose a cap on payments based on the salary of the person who would be ordered to provide them to the other spouse.
As one would expect, this new proposal is generating much in the way of controversy, as many people are stating that these reforms are harsh to women, who statistically tend to receive alimony payments more often as opposed to being ordered to pay them. However, the idea has also generated much in the way of support, particularly from people who feel that they need to avoid remarrying for fear of having too much of their income going towards alimony payments.
In addition to the limit on the duration of the payments and the cap on the amounts based on salary, the new law would allow for judges to make changes to existing alimony arrangements based on the specific factors that may affect an individual situation. Until now, adjusting alimony payments in Florida has been a relatively difficult and lengthy process, much like it is in other jurisdictions across the United States.
Many reforms that arise with regards to divorce tend to do so in one or a few jurisdictions and then spread across the country. There is no telling what could happen with regards to alimony reform, but it warrants our attention. Serving husbands and fathers as San Diego divorce lawyers has led us down the path of dealing with many spousal support issues. If you are facing any type of family law-related problem, contact the Men’s Legal Center today to schedule an initial consultation.