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Revisions to alimony laws approved by Florida Senate

Last week, the Florida Senate voted to pass a new bill that would put an end to permanent alimony payments in Florida. The bill also includes making other changes in how alimony is calculated and awarded to ex-spouses.

Lawmakers and supporters of the bill argue that alimony is not awarded fairly in Florida, and as a result, those who have been ordered to pay permanent alimony and high monthly support payments have had to put off retirement or have had to make other sacrifices in order to continue paying alimony to ex-spouses who should be able to support themselves after divorce.

While many support-paying individuals, family law attorneys and lawmakers argue that the state's alimony laws are outdated, others also argue that revising alimony laws would significantly harm divorcees who are stay-at-home parents or who were stay-at-home parents for much of their lives.

According to reports, the Senate voted 29-11 to approve the bill. The bill states that permanent alimony payments should no longer be awarded in Florida. If the bill is approved by the governor, folks who are currently ordered to pay lifetime alimony may request to have their payments terminated or lowered.

The bill also states that alimony awards will be capped. The length of a couple's marriage and a spouse's income will determine what alimony awards will be capped at. The bill does provide room for some exceptions when awarding alimony, though, when judges determine that exceptions are necessary.

Alimony payments provide ex-spouses with financial support after divorce. Alimony may be awarded when one spouse has sacrificed a career in order to focus on raising a couple's children. The stay-at-home parent may need financial support after divorce while he or she continues to focus on raising children. Alimony payments may also be awarded when one spouse earns much less than the other spouse and needs financial support while he or she becomes self-sufficient after divorce.

There are many issues that must be considered and addressed when divorcing individuals negotiate alimony awards in Broward County. In order to make sure spouses' interests remain protected during negotiations or disputes regarding alimony, folks will want to consider consulting an attorney who understands alimony laws and the financial needs of divorcees.

Source: SunSentinel, "Senate passes bill ending permanent alimony," Kathleen Haughney, April 4, 2013

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