Permanent Alimony Continues in Florida, But Reform May Soon Come To Other States
Zephyrhills, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 4, 2013 – Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have reformed Florida’s alimony laws and ended permanent alimony.
In a letter to lawmakers, Scott said he could not support the bill because it allowed judges greater leeway to alter existing permanent alimony judgments, which he said could cause “unfair, unanticipated results.” However, he praised the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Ritch Workman and Sen. Kelli Stargel, for their efforts and said the bill contains “several forward-looking elements.”
“Lawmakers and private citizens have tried for years to reform Florida’s alimony laws,” said Zephyrhills divorce attorney Marcie Baker. “They nearly succeeded this year. The governor appeared to be sympathetic to the general thrust of the bill, but had reservations about how it was implemented. And other states are in various stages of looking at alimony reform, with some having abolished permanent alimony already. I think all these signs point to this debate being far from over for Florida and the rest of the nation.”
The bill would have limited the duration of all alimony judgments to half the length of the marriage, abolishing permanent alimony. It would have created a presumption against alimony in short-term marriages – those lasting less than 11 years. For medium-term marriages between 11 and 20 years, it created no assumption either way, but limited alimony to 35 percent of the ex-spouse’s gross income. Long-term marriages had a presumption in favor of alimony under the bill, with a limit of 38 percent of gross income.
Some proponents of alimony reform have proposed that payments automatically end when the payer retires. The Florida bill stopped short of stipulating that, but would have allowed judges to reduce or end payments upon the retired payer’s request. Judges could have taken into account age, ability to pay, and the financial condition of the payee.
Supporters of alimony reform in Florida are widely expected to make another attempt in the 2014 legislative session. Meanwhile, reform efforts in several other states are proceeding. In New Jersey, lawmakers may soon vote on pending legislation that would set time limits on alimony based on the length of the marriage and automatically end alimony when the payer reaches retirement age.
Marcie Baker is a partner in the firm of Alston & Baker, P. A. To contact a Zephyrhills Social Security lawyer, Zephyrhills accident attorney, or Zephyrhills divorce lawyer, visit http://www.alstonbakerlaw.com.
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