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Florida paper voices opinion on permanent alimony, reform

Here's the short summation of the Orlando Sentinel's editorial viewpoint concerning the state of alimony in Florida:

"Florida's alimony law should be changed to better reflect the changing times."

"Changed," of course, is a word that does not immediately contain within itself the specifics required to be self-explanatory. What critics of alimony's parameters in Florida most often and specifically object to, according to the newspaper, is the allowance for "permanent alimony," which they say is illogical and onerous in many instances.

Many states do not provide for permanent alimony, a concept that essentially requires a payer to pay until death or until a former spouse remarries after divorce. That equates to "a life sentence" notes the paper's editorial and reflects "an outdated law" the state legislature should address and materially modify in its next session.

Permanent alimony was a reasonable outcome, notes the op/ed piece, in days of yore when relatively few women worked outside the home and were comparatively disadvantaged financially to a great degree following a marital dissolution.

In current times, though, things have changed greatly. Permanent alimony now often results in a payer being reduced to near or actual penury as he or she approaches or enters into a retirement phase. In some instances, it also influences the decision of a payee to not remarry and thus extinguish alimony payments. Further still, it can militate against a payer's remarriage, given that a working mate's income will increase family income and potentially result in even higher alimony outlays.

Alimony is a necessary component in some divorces, notes the paper. It needs to be tweaked, however, in a way that neither penalizes the payer or the recipient.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "What we think: Debate alimony reform, but make sure it's fair," Nov. 21, 2012

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