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Controversial alimony bill vetoed by Governor

A bill that would have drastically altered Florida alimony law was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott. The bill would have changed alimony law by capping or eliminating some payments. The payments have been considered to be crucial to spouses in the process of rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of a divorce.

The proposed legislation, SB 718, would have capped alimony awards based on income and marriage length. The proposal would have made it easier for an ex-spouse to lower or terminate alimony payments at retirement. In addition, the proposal awarded equal custody to any children from the marriage.

The governor's main objection to the bill was that it would have applied retroactively. The governor felt that this would have been disruptive to Florida residents whose divorces had already been settled.

Supporters of the proposed legislation wanted to update divorce laws that they say were written at a time when many women stayed at home. The current law has the power to grant lifetime alimony. Supporters argued that there should be tougher guidelines for the court.

Opponents of the bill felt that it left stay-at-home spouses vulnerable, particularly women in their 60s. They felt that these laws would unfairly target women who had given up careers to raise children. These women would be left destitute without monthly alimony, and, unable to support themselves, they may end up relying on welfare. Supporters have countered this argument by including alimony provisions for marriages that have lasted more than 21 years.

A person facing a divorce might benefit from a consultation with a divorce attorney. A divorce attorney may explain current divorce laws, including custody, child support and alimony.

Source: CBS 12 News, "Gov. Scott Vetoes Alimony Overhaul Bill", Donna Gehrke-White and Kathleen Haughney / Sun Sen, May 01, 2013