We last visited Florida's alimony law -- described by some as harsh, antiquated and in need of significant adjustments -- in a November 21, 2011, blog post. There was a flurry of legislative activity going on at that time, with identical bills being introduced into the state's House of Representatives and Senate that sought to make material changes to existing law.

In the interim, the Senate has acted and, after consideration and debate of the original bills, coupled with testimony from interested groups, made some changes to SB 748 that dilute some of the language in the earlier bill and buttress judicial discretion in certain areas.

Along with the original House legislation -- HB 549, which continues to read as originally written -- the Senate Bill initially called for a complete ban on adultery as a factor in determining alimony payments following divorce. The legislation also provided new and strict guidelines for when alimony would be cut off, including, centrally, upon full retirement age. Moreover, the bill's sponsors sought to bar a court from considering the assets of a new spouse when awarding alimony.

All of that has been modified in the Senate's rewrite of the bill. New language now stresses that retirement, while potentially significant, is now a matter to be considered in a court's discretion. Adultery, too, has been restored as a potential factor when it results in the "significant depletion" of a couple's assets.

The new Senate bill -- which just passed through committee by a 6-0 vote and has yet to hit the Senate floor for a comprehensive tally -- also eliminated the earlier language calling for riddance to consideration of a new spouse's assets and income. That is apparently deemed to be once again a matter for a court to decide upon in its discretion.

We will apprise readers of any important developments concerning the scope and passage of the bill as they occur.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Senate committee waters down divorce-law rewrite," Kathleen Haughney, Feb. 9, 2012