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Florida alimony reform bill moves forward despite revisions

We talked about Florida's attempt to change its spousal maintenance laws in early January and how, along with other states, there is a steady-building movement regarding alimony laws across the country. Last week, that Florida bill continued through the state's House and Senate committees.

The spousal maintenance reform bill hasn't made it through yet and there have been revisions to the proposal along the way. The Senate Judiciary Committee heard from witnesses who condemned current alimony laws, a sentiment echoed by the chairman of the Alliance for Freedom of Alimony.

"Divorce court should not be used as punishment for the alimony payer," said the chairman, who has made spousal support payments on his divorce for 29 years now despite the fact his wife was the one who left the marriage. His organization supports the bill, which had three key aspects.

First, the bill was seeking a retroactive clause that would have allowed a divorced person to change their alimony payments to align with the new legislation. Secondly, the length of time that spousal support could have been applied would have been regimented, with the law establishing new parameters for how long alimony payments could last. Finally, the law would have had provisions that ended payments based on retirement or a new relationship that was started by the receiving divorcee.

While these clauses remain, some altering was done to the wording under the House version of the bill. A judge could deem "long-term" alimony a requirement in any spousal support agreement, and retirement would merely be a consideration made by a judge when deciding to revise alimony in the case of an appeal.

There are a couple of things to note here for Minnesotans. Sure, these laws do not apply to you; but considering the national trend to review and potentially change antiquated alimony laws, we could see our spousal maintenance legislation amended in the near future. In addition, the topic of alimony reform brings out the myriad considerations and financial implications that go into a divorce and just how necessary it is to have the support and legal know-how of an experienced attorney when you go through your own divorce.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Senate committee waters down divorce-law rewrite," Kathleen Haughney, Feb. 9, 2012

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