Florida could be changing alimony laws again

The State of Florida may be looking into alimony reform again in 2017, according to news from Dec. 22. Permanent alimony has been a contentious topic for some time, and it's not soon going to go away. The legislature did pass an alimony reform bill in 2016, but when a second round appeared before the governor, he vetoed them.

The veto was due to a clause in the reform bill; it cited mandatory 50-50 child timesharing, which is something he could not support. As a result of that veto, a new bill may be presented without that clause.

Why is it so important to alter alimony arrangements in Florida? Right now, the state's divorce laws allow alimony awards to vary significantly from couple to couple. By reforming the structure of alimony laws, unexpected rulings could be eliminated, making it much easier for individuals to know what to expect when heading to court for divorce.

One of the issues that some have been discussing is that any new legislation could ask to eliminate permanent alimony. Many people don't want to see that happen, because it could leave some in financial hardship following a divorce. For instance, a 55-year-old woman who has never worked and has been married for 25 years may struggle significantly without a long-term alimony plan, or a man who has been married for 25 years who worked only part time while his spouse continued to seek an education and worked high-paying jobs could be strapped for retirement or other income.

Permanent alimony is currently issued in cases where the couples were married for at least 17 years; not all cases result in alimony payments, but permanent alimony isn't common if a couple hasn't been married at least that long. This is something you might want to discuss with your attorney if you're considering a divorce in the near future.

Source: Daily Business Review, "Florida May Again Consider Alimony Reform Bill," Jeffrey A. Weissman, Dec. 22, 2016

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