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Does the new alimony reform bill have legs? (PART 1)

Alimony reform has been a hot-button issue in our state for the last several years and that trend is unlikely to change perhaps until a change is made. Two years ago Gov. Rick Scott vetoed an alimony reform bill that would have brought significant changes, which would have been applied from that point on as well as retroactively. The retroactive portion of the bill may have been a large sticking point for many.

Now, a new bill has received a "first nod" from the House Civil Justice Subcommittee that proposes a major overhaul of alimony laws in Florida - this one would not be applied retroactively. The new bill would get rid of permanent alimony and instead use formulas to determine alimony payment amounts. These formulas are based on the combined earnings of the two individuals divorcing and the length of their marriage.

If passed, the bill would get rid of three types of alimony payments: durational, permanent and bridge-the-gap. Temporary alimony would not be affected. It would also change the idea of short-, mid- and long-term marriages. The bill eliminates mid-term marriages altogether and changes long-term marriages from 17 years or longer to 20 years or more.

If the couple were married for less than 20 years, the alimony recipient would be eligible to get payments for ".25 times the number of years of marriage." For marriages 20 years or longer, that number would go up to .75 times the number of years the couple were married. Although the formula rule would be implemented, a judge would be allowed discretion under certain circumstances. In our next post we will discuss how politicians and various groups are reacting to the bill.

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