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Alimony after divorce is the subject of new legislative proposal

Legislators in Florida have been trying for several years to pass an alimony reform statute to bring the state more in line with modern concepts of alimony most prevalent around the country. When a couple gets a divorce, the person with a significantly higher income can be compelled to pay alimony permanently to the former spouse under the current law. The reform measures would add several other forms of alimony that would not be permanent and would essentially eliminate the permanent version.

For example, one concept of alimony that is popular in most states is called rehabilitative alimony. Payments will last only so long as it takes for the recipient to get into an income-producing economic status. This kind of alimony may include payments to cover tuition for a spouse who stayed home to raise the children and never developed a profession or skills for employment later in life.

Florida has a version of rehabilitative alimony, but the new bill would make it harder for former spouses to ask for rehabilitative alimony to revert back to permanent based on a failure of the spouse to become income-sustaining. The types of alimony in the bill bases the court's determination on factors such as the length of the marriage and the spouses' incomes. This version of the bill does not contain a retroactivity provision, which caused the governor to veto it the last time it was presented.

This bill has other important sections regarding child custody and child support. The bill favors a 50-50 time sharing principle for children of divorce, but it also includes various factors that will allow judges discretion in that decision. There is certainly no assurance that the bill will be passed and signed by the governor. It has failed in Florida on several prior occasions; this version, however,  reportedly has flexible provisions that address criticisms that were lodged against the prior bills.

Source: news-press.com, "Alimony overhaul hits Florida governor's desk", Michael Braun, Mar. 11, 2016

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