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Alimony reform one step closer to becoming a reality in Florida

Last week, Florida’s House Civil Justice Subcommittee granted the first approval of the state’s new alimony reform bill, though the vote was split down the party line with Republicans in support of the bill and Democrats skeptical of it.

The bill, HB 943, seeks to overhaul Florida’s current alimony laws by effectively doing away with permanent alimony and requiring judges to follow a formula when determining temporary alimony awards, kind of like the way child support is set.

This isn’t the first time Florida legislators have tried to make alimony reform happen in the state. Just two years ago, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a hotly-contested alimony reform bill that is similar to the current bill in many ways but would have applied retroactively.

Ultimately, the governor decided to veto the bill over concerns that it would have been unfair to people who currently depend on permanent alimony.

Those who shaped the current bill say that it is a compromise for people on both sides of the issue, and they believe that now is the time for the reform to take place. But some lawmakers are still skeptical that it favors the spouses ordered to pay alimony.

For example, the bill does away with rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap and durational alimony payments -- which are intended to help support a spouse while he or she transitions back into the workplace -- in addition to permanent alimony. Only temporary alimony would remain.

As we mentioned above, judges would be required to follow a formula when determining how much alimony to order and how long it should be in place based on the length of the marriage and the difference in income between the spouses.

However, it was reported that judges would be allowed to depart from the formulas when certain conditions exist.

Although the bill would not apply retroactively, it would apply to divorce cases that are currently pending.

Talk to your family law attorney for more information on the bill and how it could potentially affect your divorce case.

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