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Legislation aims to reform alimony law in Florida

We’ve been looking in our last several posts at the topic of spousal support or alimony, and when a spouse is entitled to support under Florida law. As we noted, several types of alimony are awarded in Florida—rehabilitative, durational and permanent—and the conditions for an award are bound by certain conditions and determined by judicial discretion.

In seeking spousal support, it is important for a spouse to work with an experienced attorney who understands the law and how to zealously advocate for the rights and interests of the spouse. If proposed changes to alimony law are passed, this will be even more important. Currently, but the Florida House and Senate are considering proposals to reform alimony law that would make the standards for an award stricter. 

One of the most significant aspects of the legislation is that courts would no longer be able to use the presumptive alimony guidelines laid out in state statute to calculate alimony. The legislation also proposes presumptions for alimony awards based on the duration of marriages, provides limitations on combined child support and alimony awards relative to the payor’s income; and revises the rules for modifying alimony awards.

Proponents of the legislation say the changes will increase the predictability and consistency of alimony awards. Opponents argue that the changes will be harmful to women and children, and that awards could be retroactively modified under the rules, a point which proponents deny. This raises concerns about fairness in cases where a spouse gave up certain rights in equitable distribution in exchange for alimony.

Needless to say, there is bound to be a significant amount of debate over the legislation. Whatever changes are made, or if no changes at all are made, it will continue to be critical to work with an experienced attorney to handle financial matters in divorce, including equitable distribution, child support, and spousal support. 

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