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Another legislative session, another debate about Florida alimony

In yet another chapter of Florida's ongoing spousal support debate, a state representative has filed a bill with the intent to change spousal maintenance requirements. Florida's state statutes for alimony distribution have been under fire for several years, though last year's attempt at reform was vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott. News reports show that Scott struck down the proposed legislation because of provisions that would have affected child custody proceedings in the state.

This year's alimony reforms, proposed by state Rep. Colleen Burton, is designed to address the concept of "permanent" alimony, a legal artifact that has been eliminated by many other jurisdictions throughout the nation. The bill would require that judges comply with a standard formula for calculating alimony, only going outside of those spousal maintenance guidelines if specific factors exist. Burton's bill is supported by a partner measure that has been filed in the state senate.

Florida's alimony structure has been hotly contested for some time, with many of the provisions in the legislation considered outdated and unfair to both recipients and payers. Previous attempts at reform have faced a significant amount of resistance. The most recent iteration reportedly sparked a "hollering battle" between about 100 activists during the last legislative session.

Permanent alimony is, of course, an issue that should be carefully considered by all jurisdictions. This type of alimony, while considered traditional, may not be entirely applicable in today's economic environment. Many spouses are capable of building their own careers after a divorce, making permanent alimony a thing of the past in other locations throughout the country. Divorcing couples would be well-served to keep their fingers on the pulse of these financial support matters to make sure they understand their evolving rights and responsibilities in Florida.

Source: SaintPetersBlog.com, "Alimony reform bill filed for 2017," Jim Rosica, accessed Feb. 03, 2017

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