Florida alimony reform bill collapses

With the abrupt early adjournment of the Florida House on April 28, 2015, came the collapse of a long awaited alimony reform bill. The House and Senate each had similar bills attempting to revise the existing alimony statute.

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Much of the Florida Bar Family Law Section has been pushing for alimony reform that would provide judges, practitioners, and the public, alike, with a formula for determining alimony based on the duration of the marriage and the difference between the spouses’ incomes. HB 943 left the judges with room to use their discretion to make any necessary adjustments to the amount and/or duration of the alimony award. The Senate counterpart was SB 1248.

In 2013, similar legislation was proposed and passed the divided Legislature only be to ultimately vetoed by Governor Rick Scott. The previous version of the bill included a retroactive application to previous alimony orders. The 2015 bills did not include the retroactive provisions.

BillSummaries_smallThe 2015 versions included a presumption that parents should have equal (50/50) timesharing schedules with their children. This timesharing presumption as well as the ongoing dispute over the health care portion of the state budget led to the alimony bill not going through.

A lot of time and effort went into creating this proposed reform. In January 2015, I attended the Marital & Family Review Course put on by the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and there was a lot of discussion about the anticipated alimony overhaul.

There are strong lobbies on both sides of this argument. While most of the Florida Bar Family Law Section supports alimony reform, there are some members and women’s groups that oppose the overhaul. The women groups are concerned about the impact eliminating permanent alimony will have on older spouses, stereotypically women, who did not work outside of their home and were married for a long time. Advocates for the change are pushing for more predictability to alimony settlements.

There is no telling when or if the alimony statute will be revised, but one thing is for sure, the debate over alimony reform lives on. I anticipate new proposed legislation in the 2016 session. Stay tuned, and if you are curious about learning more about your right to alimony or your susceptibility to paying alimony, you can call our office at 877-687-1392 or 239-210-7516 to schedule a consultation.

For more information on divorce and family law issues, email Keith@AttorneyGrossman.com, or call toll free: 877-687-1392, or locally: 239-210-7516.

Interested in learning more about the emotions that can surface during a divorce, read my free e-book, “Does Every Divorce Need a Shark?”

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     Posted on May 13, 2015 at 8:39 am | No comment

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