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Florida moves toward change on alimony: State Senate passes bill

Alimony has been a hot-button topic in Florida for some time. Given the recent movement of a bill through the state Senate, major changes to what is called permanent alimony are now on the horizon and could take effect from July.

Alimony -- also referred to as spousal maintenance -- following divorce is of several types in Florida, including lump-sum, rehabilitative and bridge-the-gap alimony. Most of the buzz and debate -- and contention -- in Florida in recent years has been reserved for the subject of permanent alimony.

Many payers decry the concept as unfair and outdated, being reflective of a time when many more women stayed at home as homemakers and cared for the children following marriage rather than pursue careers.

"The times have changed and the alimony laws ... need to be more practical for today's society," says Alan Frisher, co-director of the group Florida for Alimony Reform, an organization that has been a major voice supporting the abolition of permanent alimony.

Many long-time recipients of permanent alimony -- generally, older women who did in fact take care of the house and kids for years while the husband was employed outside the home -- understandably don't want to see changes in the law.

"I'm just hugely upset by it," says one woman who currently collects permanent alimony.

Senate Bill 718, which would end permanent alimony, passed last Thursday. If passed by the state House, which approved similar legislation last year, and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, the law would take effect on July 1 of this year.

Notwithstanding any changes, state judges would continue to exercise some discretion in alimony cases. The new bill states that they will be able to do so under "special circumstances."

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Senate passes bill ending permanent alimony," Kathleen Haughney, April 4, 2013

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