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Could the proposed alimony rules affect my Florida divorce?

There are a variety of reasons why couples eventually decide to end their marriages. Perhaps some form of marital misconduct like infidelity or abandonment played a pivotal role. Still, for some others both spouses may have simply grown disinterested in continuing the relationship. Regardless of the reasons for divorce, the fact remains that fairness regarding the split should be a paramount concern to both parties.

Florida family courts have traditionally attempted to interject fairness into some divorce cases by awarding alimony in certain circumstances. Alimony is the term used to refer to money paid by one ex-spouse to another after a divorce. Typically, a court might award long-married spouses with limited means of providing for themselves alimony from those spouses with greater financial security.

Currently, Florida legislators in both the state's House and Senate are attempting to pass legislation that would dramatically alter the way Florida courts handle alimony. The proposed changes would do away with permanent alimony orders and also place an emphasis on achieving a "50-50" split between spouses regarding child sharing arrangements.

Although previous legislators have attempted to pass similar bills, this renewed effort has removed some key provisions which would have affected previously decided alimony cases retroactively. The legislation currently has supporters and detractors with differing views regarding alimony. Those in support of the bills laud the fact that they promote using both spouses' incomes as well as the length of the marriage as key factors in determining alimony awards. Opponents argue that the "hard presumption" regarding the requirement that both parents share equally in child sharing agreements may not necessarily work in all cases.

If you are a Florida resident currently considering divorce you should know that the governor previously vetoed a similar measure to alter alimony laws back in 2013. Your Florida family law attorney will know how courts are interpreting current alimony laws. Your attorney can also advise you regarding the timing of your divorce and the potential implications of pending alimony legislation.

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

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