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Florida Alimony Reform Still Being Pushed

Last November, a House bill aimed at reforming and consolidating Florida’s alimony rules cleared the first House panel. The bill, entitled HB 455, passed muster through the Civil Justice Subcommittee across party lines and is sponsored by State Representative Colleen Burton (R). This most recent push by the Florida legislature is the third one of its kind in the past few years aiming at revamping the state’s alimony rules. Generally, some spouses are fighting against paying alimony indefinitely while others do not want to be penalized for having difficulty re-entering the workforce after stepping away to raise a family.

HB 455 v. Other Alimony Bills

Representative Burton’s bill proposes an end to “permanent alimony,” among other things, by limiting the amount of discretion family law judges have in awarding this after a divorce. Instead, the bill suggests a pre-set formula for how much and how long an ex-spouse should receive payments. HB 455 also allows for modification or ending of alimony to be imposed retroactively, something that caused Governor Rick Scott to veto a similar alimony reform bill passed by lawmakers during the 2013 session. The Florida Bar’s Family Law section supports HB 455. Some particulars of HB 455 include:

  • requiring judges to use enumerated factors when calculating alimony paid during the pendency of the divorce;
  • providing alimony award presumptions that are dependent upon the length of the marriage;
  • allowing the court to impute – or assign – income to a party in particular circumstances;
  • prohibiting the court from modifying the duration of an alimony award; and
  • providing for motions to advance trial, if a particular person has passed since the initial service of a respondent, for certain actions.

Senator Tom Lee (R), is also sponsoring an alimony reform bill during this legislative session. Unlike Representative Burton’s proposal Senator Lee’s proposed legislation, HB 250, includes a legal presumption that equal time-sharing by parents of a minor child is in the child’s “best interest” – the legal standard judges must use when determining family law matters involving minors. Other parts of Senator Lee’s bill include:

  • requiring a court to:
    • consider particular alimony factors and make detailed findings of fact after making a determination;
    • make specified findings before ruling on an alimony request;
  • allowing a party to pursue immediate modification of alimony, in certain situations; and
  • providing that a collaborative legal process begins when parties enter into such a participation agreement.

It is uncertain which legislator’s bill will pass in both houses and whether or not the bill will be signed into law once it reaches Governor Scott’s desk.

Orlando Alimony Attorney

If either one of these legislations passes, the alimony reform bill in Florida will have drastic implications on soon-to-be ex-spouses involved in a divorce. If you or someone that you know has questions regarding alimony reform – or is concerned about any other issues relating to family law – and is in the Orlando area, let the experienced law offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. help. Call or contact the office today for an initial free and confidential consultation of your case.

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