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How alimony reform could affect Florida divorces

Floridians who are preparing to divorce may need to learn about proposed legislation that could greatly impact alimony orders. The bill, which was unanimously approved by the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee, would make several important changes.

According to the bill, permanent alimony orders would no longer occur. Instead, courts would use a formula to determine the length of the payments and their amounts. The bill would also provide 50-50 child-sharing for divorcing couples who have children. It would not apply retroactively to divorce cases that are settled prior to the law's passage.

Women's groups have come out against the bill. The National Organization for Women has stated that it is concerned about the potential impact the formula could have on older women who never worked outside of the home during their marriages. Supporters of the reform effort point out that the bill would lend greater predictability to alimony awards and expected amounts. Another criticism about the bill is the 50-50 child-sharing provision contained within it although the bill does allow judges to deviate if certain factors apply.

If it passes, the bill should be considered by people whose divorce cases involve the potential for alimony. People who were married for a long time and did not work outside the home may want to get their divorces completed before the law passes. On the other hand, people who expect they might be ordered to pay permanent alimony in their divorce may want to wait to finalize it until after the 2015 session ends. Whatever a person's position is, they may want to discuss the pending legislation and how it might affect them with a family law attorney. An attorney may be able to help best protect the client's interests

Source: Herald-Tribune, "Alimony reform moving forward," Lloyd Dunkelberger, March 27, 2015

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