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Florida alimony under attack in state legislature

Florida alimony laws may be tumbling down like London Bridge. Not long ago the state legislature passed a new law that essentially reserved permanent awards of alimony for long-term marriages ending in divorce. Now there is a move underfoot to limit it further by abolishing permanent spousal support. These changes reflect a groundswell across the country, led by reforms of antiquated laws in Massachusetts and attempts to do so in New Jersey.

The new Florida bill pending in the House of Representatives would award alimony based on the length of the marriage but would terminate on the retirement of the paying partner. One man who was required to pay lifetime alimony after a marriage of 14 years is part of the Florida Alimony Reform group, which has redoubled its efforts for change after passage of the reforms in Massachusetts. The group argues that, if the proposed law passes, those currently subject to onerous spousal support awards should be able to go to court to get their orders amended.

But others suggest Florida is a more conservative state than Massachusetts and unlikely to go to the same extent in amending its laws. While there appears to be general agreement that reform is needed, some argue that any change should not hurt homemakers who stayed at home to raise families instead of pursuing careers. While it remains to be seen how the issues will be resolved, those facing spousal support issues would do well to consult an attorney experienced in all aspects of matrimonial law and procedure.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Bill: Permanent alimony would become thing of past," Donna Gehrke-White, Dec. 7, 2011

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