February 25, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Florida advocates of alimony reform double their efforts in early 2014---
Article provided by Lasky, Hendrix & Davis
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In some Florida divorces, one former spouse must make periodic payments and/or a lump sum payment to the other. These payments are known as alimony.
Alimony, also sometimes referred to as spousal support, has been an issue of contention in Florida's family law system for quite some time now. Supporters of alimony reform laws say that in many cases, alimony awards have become inconsistent and out of control. Their opponents, including several women's rights groups, say that reigning in alimony awards would harm women and families. After a controversial alimony reform bill nearly became Florida law in 2013, new efforts are being made at pushing through a more palatable alimony reform measure this year.
An overview of Florida's current alimony guidelines
Under current Florida law, judges have a relatively large amount of discretion in awarding or declining to award alimony. Since most divorcing couples reach a settlement agreement outside of the courtroom, the typical alimony award entails reaching middle ground based on what a judge would likely order.
Florida statutes lay out some of the factors that may be considered in determining the amount of alimony. Adultery by either spouse is one of them, but there are a number of other considerations that may be important, including:
-The length of the marriage
-The earning capacity of each party
-Contributions each party made to the marriage
-The standard of living of the couple during the marriage
-Any factor deemed "necessary to do equity and justice between the parties"
Current Florida law allows alimony to be awarded for a specific amount of time, for a specific purpose or, in some cases, permanently.
New bill addresses some of the issues with old one
Last year, a Florida bill passed in both the Senate and House that would have capped alimony payments based on a specific schedule of salary and the duration of the marriage. The bill would have ended permanent alimony completely. It also contained a handful of other family law provisions, including one that would have established a statutory preference for shared child custody.
Before the bill could become law, however, it fell to a veto from Governor Rick Scott. Among the issues he had with the bill, Governor Scott cited provisions that made its effects retroactive, which would potentially raise questions of constitutionality since these provisions would have impacted fully completed divorce settlements that had been agreed upon based on the expectation of alimony payments.
Florida Representative Ritch Workman is working on revising the language of last year's alimony bill in an attempt to address the governor's concerns. No 2014 alimony legislation has yet been filed, but Workman says that unlike last year's bill, his proposal will not include an end to permanent alimony or any retroactive provisions.
Talk to a Florida lawyer about your divorce
Will the Florida alimony reform bill become law this year? No one is certain. But, advocacy groups like the nonprofit Family Law Reform are actively soliciting support from the public in an informational campaign that in just the last few months has included film screenings, the released of a 237-page book on the perceived shortfalls of the divorce system and an alimony reform summit that had hundreds of attendees.
If you are headed toward divorce, you need to be ready for potential changes to the law, and you need to build a strong case to get the alimony result you desire. Contact an experienced Florida family law attorney today to ensure your finances remain intact after divorce.
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