Florida residents who have been stuck with lifetime alimony may be seeing some relief in the future. There has been a move away from lifetime spousal support due to the burden it places on the person responsible for paying. Alimony itself is not under fire so much as the issues it creates for individuals who are saddled with payments for the rest of their lives regardless of their financial situation.
Some of the consequences of lifetime alimony are routine stays in jail. In one case in particular, a man who lost his job due to a poor economy is constantly sent to jail due to his inability to pay the more than $75,000 a year in child support and alimony he owes. According to the man, he went through his savings in an attempt to keep up with payments, and when the money ran out, he began being jailed for contempt of court even though he didn't have a job.
Three states have already passed laws limiting the duration of alimony, and another 10 are looking to make similar changes. Some states are looking at only requiring alimony of individuals who have much larger incomes than their spouse does. Another type of change that lawmakers are looking at is keeping permanent alimony an option but enabling changes to be made to the alimony decree based on an individual's inability to keep up with payments.
State law regarding alimony, child support and asset division are already fairly complicated, and they are subject to change. A lawyer could help someone understand their rights and how laws could affect their case as well as assisting them to achieve an equitable outcome in a divorce.
Source: Bloomberg, "Jail Becomes Home for Husband Stuck With Lifetime Alimony", Sophia Pearson, August 26, 2013