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Florida alimony reform still causing acrimony

Earlier this spring in Florida, a proposal to overhaul alimony in the state didn't make it through the final days of the legislative session. Now, there are three rewrites of the state's alimony laws in the Legislature. Each would get rid of permanent alimony and use various formulas to determine the alimony amount.

Representative Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, is sponsoring a proposal almost identical to the one that fell apart earlier this year. Burton's proposal would get rid of certain kinds of alimony, such as durational, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative and permanent alimony. There would only be short-term and long-term marriages where alimony is concerned, with long-term marriages being defined as those of 20 years or longer. The duration of alimony would be based on how long the couple was married. The payment would be based upon the couple's gross income. No alimony would be given to couples married for less than two years, unless an exception was given by a judge. Burton's proposal (HB 455) was passed by the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. A committee hearing hasn't been slated for the other two proposals yet.

The proposal in the spring included a controversial child-sharing provision; however, Burton's bill does not.

Some other legislators believe Burton's proposal is an improvement to the bill that Gov. Scott vetoed back in 2013. According to Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, "Lawyers on both sides of the issue have all said to me this is the best compromise they can envision." She also said that if the bill becomes law, there could be some "unintended consequences."

If you are seeking alimony in your divorce or if you are hoping to keep alimony payments to a minimum, an attorney experienced in divorce and family law can provide information as to how this bill might affect you.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Acrimony remains over alimony reform," Dara Kim, The News Service of Florida, Nov. 20, 2015

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