How has Alimony Changed with the Changing Times?


Fifty years ago, divorce cases looked very different from the ones that we see as divorce lawyers today. Not only has the definition of marriage changed, but also the logistics of the American household. Gender roles have been reversed- increasing the number of stay at home fathers, while same-sex marriages and households where both spouses work have blurred the lines that were once the set standard in divorce settlements.

Throughout the years, the laws surrounding marriages and divorces have shifted to fit with the development of these legal institutions. The idea of alimony is no different, as it is used to financially support a lesser earning or able spouse after the dissolution of a marriage. Although the purpose of alimony has remained unchanged, the qualifications and factors determining an alimony award have become more comprehensive than prior years. Your Orlando divorce attorney is knowledgeable of the history of alimony and changes in laws that make it applicable today and in your specific case.

One of the main changes seen in alimony award is the gender neutral approach. Many states used to have outdated laws that required payments only from the male spouse to the female. These laws became under attack in the 1970s, especially when women were found in the workforce themselves and able to financially provide for their families in a similar if not equal amount as their male counterparts. Therefore, the issue was brought to the United States Supreme Court for a determination. The court noted in the case of Orr v. Orr that such laws, only requiring males to provide financial assistance to their female counterparts to be in violation with the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Orr v. Orr 440 US 268 (1979). This sweeping declaration caused a dramatic shift in alimony awards as wives were no longer automatically seen as an under employed or financially dependent party. Rather, the courts needed to look specially at the financial capabilities of the parties in order to determine a more accurate award.

In contrast, the avenues in which alimony may terminate has also changed over the years. Previously, alimony awards would only terminate upon death or remarriage of the receiving spouse. However, Florida legislatures discovered many spouses receiving alimony would postpone getting married in order to continue receiving alimony payments. Therefore, legislators implemented the new term of supportive relationship. If found to be in a supportive relationship the court may order alimony payments to significantly decrease or terminate as such a need is no longer present. Florida is one of the few states that provides for such a caveat. A supportive relationship can be determined, by the court, through evidence of cohabitation, sharing of financial expenses, sharing property, holding themselves out to the community as a married couple, the duration of the relationship or pooling of assets and debts. If you or your former spouse is engaged in a supportive relationship, notify your Orlando Divorce Attorney, they will be able to evaluate the situation and determine if a modification or termination to an alimony award would be necessary.

The law does attempt to change along with societal norms. However, it is imperative to obtain the advice and counsel of an experienced and knowledgeable Orlando Divorce Attorney. They will explain the Florida court system and the changes in the statutory protocol for a divorce proceeding. If you feel as though alimony is a critical part of your divorce, find an attorney who is knowledge of the laws and factors that an alimony award is determined upon.

Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.  We handle cases throughout the state of Florida and have offices also located in Panama City, Pensacola, Fort Walton and Navarre.

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