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New guidelines for alimony in Florida are yet again in the works

Alimony has been a hot topic in Florida for several legislative sessions. Previous bills have been vetoed by the governor and come under fire by women's advocacy groups. However, current proposed changes seem to have the support of both sides and may lead to landmark reforms to what some believe to be an outdated alimony system.

Under the proposed guidelines, judges would rely on marriage length and both of the spouses' incomes to figure out how much alimony would be awarded in each case, much in the same way that child support is currently determined. In extreme situations, judges could decide to veer from the guidelines. A proposal in previous bills concerning making new legislation effective retroactively appears to have been left out of the current proposal, which is expected to include language concerning modifications to existing alimony. 

In addition to basically creating an alimony calculator, the proposal would also end permanent spousal support in all but the most extreme cases, and, in those, judges would also be able to use their discretion. This bill would be the first in the state's history resulting in spouses actually having beginning and ending dates for the duration of spousal support. A former chairman said that the proposal is re-establishing the way alimony is calculated and will create a balance for both payors and payees.

Florida residents who are considering filing for divorce or who have already divorced and are paying or receiving alimony may benefit from keeping an eye on the news from Tallahassee. Although the specifics of the new guidelines have not yet been released, they appear to be changing the way alimony is handled in the state. If the proposal is approved by the state, it could not only affect future divorces but could also affect existing agreements depending on the language concerning modifications that is included.

Source: bizjournals.com, "Alimony overhaul once more on the table in Tallahassee", Dara Kim, Feb. 16, 2015

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