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The Future of Florida Alimony

The legislature is done for the year and the hot topic of alimony fizzled out at the end. It seems that the bill that passed the House and the Senate that eliminated permanent alimony entirely and made a number of other dents in the current alimony law was too much for the Governor to take. As he vetoed the bill, he cited one problem – that the bill would allow alimony payors to come into court and get their existing alimony obligations wiped out based solely on the fact that new standards had been established.

In the past, you could only modify alimony based on a substantial change of circumstances of one or both of the divorced spouses. These changes typically dealt with one of them getting a large increase in income, losing a Job, becoming too ill to work or retiring at the age of 65 or over. The bill was vetoed because it seemed to allow an alimony payor to come into court and claim the fact that there were new and tougher standards to justify the modification. The parties could be in exactly the same financial circumstances as when the alimony was first ordered and still get the amount decreased or eliminated just based on the new law.

Governor Scott spoke of the unfairness of that situation for women (97% of alimony recipients are women) who may have given up an equal distribution of assets in order to get more alimony when they negotiated their divorce settlements.

So the statute remains the same for now and permanent alimony is still intact. But what about the future?

My crystal ball doesn't work all that well, but it makes sense to me that the legislature may come back to the Governor next year with the same bill except for eliminating the section about modifying existing divorces based upon the new rules. So I guess the smart thing for the spouse making the greater income to do is to hold off on filing for divorce and wait until after July 1st of next year to get an idea of what alimony may be after next year's session. If you are the spouse with the smaller income, you may want to make up your mind about the divorce soon so that you don't have alimony ordered under the expected more stringent rules.

But you might want to go see a fortune teller before making a decision.

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