January 23, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Laws regarding spousal support and maintenance have made many headlines in the last year, as some states have reformed these laws and others have considered doing so. As most people in West Palm Beach know, Florida fell into the latter category, with a bill to change alimony
law being vetoed hours before its passage earlier this year, according to the Tampa Tribune. Although the bill did not pass, the debate over alimony continues, and it is possible that Floridians will see new initiatives or even changes next year.
Changes proposed under bill
Currently, Florida allows four kinds of alimony to be awarded during a divorce
, including permanent alimony. In May 2013, Governor Rick Scott vetoed Senate Bill 718, which would have reformed various aspects of alimony law, according to the Tampa Tribune. Some changes proposed under the bill were:
- Alimony payments would not be ordered for longer than half the length of the marriage.
- The criteria for awarding alimony in short-term marriages would be more stringent.
- Parents would automatically be given joint custody of their children, except under outstanding circumstances.
- These legal changes would have applied retroactively.
Governor Scott vetoed the bill out of concern for people who were already divorced and leading lives built around certain financial expectations. Still, with alimony criticisms being made by people as diverse as ex-husbands, ex-wives and second wives, it is more than possible that this issue will appear again in the future.
Controversy over alimony
Alimony is a highly contested point in many divorces, and the arguments for and against alimony reform in Florida reflect many of the reasons for this conflict. According to the Sun-Sentinel, people who favor keeping current alimony laws believe that spouses who spent decades out of the job force to raise or support their families would be severely penalized under new laws, since they have lower earning potential and often need spousal support to get by.
Critics of the law point out that people who pay alimony may spend more on their ex-spouses than their current families and may even have to delay retirement. In extreme cases, payers could face years of economic hardship after a relatively short marriage. Many women who out-earn their ex-spouses support modernizing alimony laws, and this opinion may especially matter in Florida; the Sun-Sentinel reports that Palm Beach, Miami Dade and Broward counties have some of the lowest gender wage gaps of 50 metro areas across the United States.
Sponsors of this year's bill intend to introduce another one in 2014 that would adjust how alimony is awarded. In the meantime, there is still significant judicial discretion in the awarding of alimony in Florida, which makes it important for both spouses to understand their rights and represent themselves well.
If you are preparing for a divorce in Florida, you should make sure to consult with an attorney. An attorney can advise you on current laws that affect divorce settlements, including alimony laws, and improve the your chances of being awarded favorable settlement terms.
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