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Lawmakers introduce bills that would change alimony in Florida

Bills have been introduced in both houses of the Florida legislature that, if passed, would alter the current alimony laws in place.

In the state House of Representatives, a subcommittee gave the alimony bill its first approval, allowing it to advance. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola), proposes to shift alimony from lifetime payments to a "bridge the gap" system and also would limit how long alimony could be paid.

"Alimony in the state, currently — Florida is lagging behind nationally," Andrade said, as WFSU Public Media reported. "We're one of six states that still allows for lifetime alimony. And our statutes allow for a significant amount of judicial discretion, that's not subject to any stringent appellate review."

The bill, which passed the House Civil Justice Subcommittee with the majority Republicans voting in favor, would limit the length of alimony payments following a divorce..

Rehabilitative alimony would last for no more than five years, during which time the receiving ex-spouse would be able to build financial stability. Longer-term durational alimony, paid to a dependent ex-spouse, would be limited to payments for only half the number of years the couple was married.

Andrade's bill also would end payments when the payor reaches legal retirement age.

The Florida Bar's Family Law section has expressed opposition to the bill.

Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) has introduced a twin bill in the Senate. It has not had its first hearing yet.

It will be interesting to watch as these bills make their way through the legislature as they could have a substantial impact on couples who divorce down the road.

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