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A look at alimony developments in Florida

We last left off with the subject of spousal maintenance in Florida last spring, when Gov. Rick Scott -- to the surprise of many -- vetoed a bill passed by state legislators that would have brought material changes in the area.

Spousal maintenance, better known to many as alimony, has been a hot-button topic in Florida for some time, with proponents and critics solidly lined up on both sides of a rancorous debate.

A group called Florida Alimony Reform has been leading the charge in pressing hard for changes. The advocacy group has been focused centrally upon the state’s provision for permanent alimony, which many payers say is an antiquated concept and an unfair exaction that lasts a lifetime for an ex-spouse.

Scott’s veto came with the stated concern that eliminating permanent alimony -- as well as placing a cap on an award based on income and marital duration -- “could result in unfair, unanticipated results.” That proclamation was also based on additional concerns with the bill, namely, that it allowed for a former partner to petition for lowered payments or their termination upon retirement.

Highly controversial to opponents was that the would-be law also contained a provision that would have enabled an ex-spouse to reopen a divorce filing and seek a court order to make changes retroactively.

The overall package was deemed “abominable” by one alimony reformer, who is now working with Alimony Reform on a revised legislative effort.

This time around, those who want alimony reworked have been careful to eliminate the “retroactive language.” What they centrally seek is an end to payments that end only upon a payer’s death, and the ability for modifications to be made when a payer retires or suffers a loss of income.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Alimony reform advocates retooling legislation," Kathleen  Haughney, Sept. 15, 2013

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