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Alimony Reform- Will it go through this time?

Alimony reform is gaining momentum in the Florida legislature. Alimony is a Court ordered payment of spousal support. Currently, under §61.08 in a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court may grant alimony to either spouse, which alimony may be bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent in nature or any combination of these forms of alimony. In determining whether to award alimony or maintenance, the court shall first make a specific factual determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance.

The proposed Senate bill (SB 718) and House bill (HB 231), would eliminate the ability for spouses to receive permanent alimony. The legislative bills will also establish new standards of how alimony should be awarded in short term, mid-term, and long term marriages. Courts will not be able to order a spouse to pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income to their former partners. Additionally, the proposed bill will allow a rebuttable presumption against awarding alimony in short-term marriages.

Proponents of the bill claim that spouses will be relieved of financial "life sentences" in divorces. The Family Law section of the Florida Bar opposes both bills because they feel it will have a detrimental effect on spouses who sacrificed their careers to be stay at home parents. Both bills are quickly moving through the legislature and it is to be determined how the bills will affect families in Florida. Senate Bill 718 is easy to find and easy to read. Simply go to:www.flsenate.gov/session/bill/2013/0718. The entire bill as proposed is 27 pages and to read the entire bill click on "Bill Text" and be sure to read the most current version of the bill.

For anyone who will be personally affected by this bill (i.e., those of you who signed an agreement to receive alimony in exchange for other provisions in an agreement and you made plans accordingly), you need to communicate with legislators and ask them how you will pay your mortgage, health care and take care of yourself and your family if your alimony stops. One of the biggest problems with having termination of alimony tied to the payor's retirement age means that, for example, if someone reaches retirement age of 65 and alimony terminates but you are only age 60, not only does your alimony stop but you are not eligible yet for social security. These are the kinds of facts that need to be discussed with all legislators and I cannot urge you strongly enough to send letters immediately. Call, email and write. Talk to all of your friends. Think about everyone you know that will be affected. Have your family write letters.To get all of the true facts and to stay up to date, go to: www.trustaboutflalimony.com

Remember "permanent" alimony in Florida is not "lifetime" alimony. Alimony is always modifiable in Florida and under the right circumstances can be modified and will be modified appropriately.

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