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Political infighting halts revamped Florida alimony law

A recent disagreement late between Florida lawmakers last month has put the brakes on a potential realignment of the state's alimony laws. Alimony, also known as spousal support, is money paid by one spouse to another after a divorce to support that spouse receiving those funds. Typically, Florida family courts will award spousal support in situations where a spouse may not be able to support themselves or their children following a divorce.

Two years ago, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a proposed overhaul of Florida's current alimony laws. Since that time, legislators in both the Florida House and Senate have been attempting to work out several key revisions to that proposal in an effort to avoid another governor's veto. According to one lawmaker, the governor vetoed the original bill because of its retroactivity.

Since that initial veto, infighting between the House and Senate has erupted over one key provision of a revamped piece of legislation. The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tom Lee, refused to take up the reworked bill because it did not contain a so-called "50-50" child sharing provision. This provision would have granted divorcing spouses a presumption that they would equally share the care and custody of their children after the divorce was finalized.

By the Senate refusing to consider the measure, the bill is essentially stalled. That's because Florida's House members adjourned on April 28. That decision has since caused rancor between the lawmaking bodies. In particular, House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman says that the Senate's decision to ignore the bill, HB-943, overlooks the fact that it would have established a formula for Florida family courts. If enacted, HB-943 would have allowed courts to consider the incomes of both divorcing spouses as well as the length of time they were married. Senator Lee says that he intends to introduce a version of his own bill next year that includes the presumption of a 50-50 child sharing arrangement.

If you are a Florida resident considering divorce you should know that alimony can be a hotly contested matter. That's why having an attorney who has experience in Florida family law matters can prove beneficial. This is true whether you are seeking alimony or attempting to minimize your post-divorce obligations.

Source: Palm Beach Post, "Overhaul of alimony laws once again fails in Florida Legislature," Dara Kim, News Service of Florida, April. 30, 2015

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